surfsensei

Reflections and observations on life in general.

0-point-double-zilch…

It is one of those days when the institutional disincentives to saving return to my awareness…

2016-3sep-adayalife

Brexit: Burning our bridges

This is one of the most clear and articulate articles I’ve read, please read and share…

Just an anglophone

It’s hard to know where to start on today’s result. Like many, I’m still feeling regular waves of shock, horror and nausea when I think about what we’ve declared as a nation, and what impact it could have on our future and others’. I’ve refrained from blogging on the subject previously, because I’m not as politically informed as the many people whose posts I’ve shared, but now it’s become the only thing I can think about, I’m going to have a stab. Because I’m angry.

I’ve seen a lot of people on my social media requesting that we stop verbally abusing leave voters and tarring them with the ‘bigot’ brush, and that’s fair. There’s already been too much anger and personal hatred in this debate; in fact, that’s probably one of the reasons we’ve made such an insane dangerousludicrous unprecedented decision. There are various reasons to vote leave, not all of them xenophobia, and I…

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In the harsh light of day…

This article is worth reading:
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/06/i-want-my-country-back

So now, after a cup of (Indian) tea, I will go to the market. There I will join the people from Britain, Carribean, India, Pakistan, Middle East, Far East, Australia and elsewhere as we find the things we need and like. We will buy vegetables and fruit from local farms, the mainland of Europe, the Carribbean islands and the more peaceful Middle East.
All of us, from my point of view, will be fellow citizens, whatever our paperwork says.

Resilience

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I am returning south empty-handed, narrowly missing selection for a new job, just in 2nd place.
So, after some rest, I will review my plan of action and persevere. I will also continue to work towards employable competence in another European language (NL); I want a key, however small, to another country.
I have been hosted by kind friends and would have stayed longer had I not had another commitment already this weekend.
Outside, as the train passes the Lake District, the clouds are billowing and beautiful, appearing close enough to touch.
England is a beautiful country, tainted by narrow and xenophobic views.
It feels a more foreign land, now.

Earth, water & fire.

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Vases, stoneware, 9 & 14cm.

I made these, recently, among my better wheel-thrown pots. My skill level is basic, I do too little of this to become fluent, there are other, higher priorities in my life right now. However, I like them, they will do what I want, for now; when they no longer do, they will become gifts.
Now I just need flowers.

 

At the end of the rainbow.

I just saw a beautiful photograph of a full, bright, rainbow by a friend going through very difficult times.

I had this thought:

There is no physical rainbow ‘out there’ in the sky…

The rainbow only really ‘exists’ within your own mind, it is created from the sensations of light in the eyes…

Thus the rainbow has its ends within yourself….

So the pot of gold is there too.

 

There will be more swans.

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It has been a beautiful day, here in Wolverhampton, cool but with hints of Spring beginning in the bright, hazy sunshine. It’s a Sunday to bring the families out and, sure enough, as I write this later in the day, the park is crowded with people of all sorts, their dogs, bikes and other toys, enjoying themselves in a relaxed way with a feeling of ease and relief after a chilly Winter.
As I sat on a fallen branch, making quick sketches, the air was full of scents of cut grass, ground coffee (I had just bought some from a stall), cool air. Cries and barks of children and dogs, above the hiss of passing traffic, were interspersed with a periodic distant roar of football fans in the Molineux Stadium.
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Early this morning, I went to the Central Baths to have a swim while the pool would normally be used only by a handful of distance swimmers. There was a Gala on today, so it was closed. So I cycled slowly around the green calm of West Park, watching the birds on the lakes.
The swans were gliding, displaying and courting, a pair was deeply engaged in a graceful dance of dipping their heads in the water and crossing each other’s necks. They mated, quickly and quietly, the male submerging the female briefly, then both surfaced and together made a grunting honking sound I have not heard before; I think they were mutually satisfied!
I returned to the flat for breakfast before deciding it was too good outside to stay indoors. It has been a lovely day, and there will be more swans this year.

Grateful for past wisdom

As the ambulance crew knocked on the door, I was once again grateful for the past wisdom of the Labour government that was elected decisively at the end of World War 2, in particular for the ambitious project of the National Health Service.

While it has its problems, in part due to how it was established, it has given us immense freedom in the UK, freedom from the fear of crippling medical bills, the whims of profit-driven private health insurance companies and, until recently, the vagaries of ‘the Market’ in determining what care is available in your area of Britain.

The crew were quick and proficient and reassuring, as were the rest of the staff I saw, remarkably quickly, at Macclesfield Accident & Emergency.  They listened with compassion to my pain – I had severe abdominal pains that could have indicated emergency treatment. After all the tests were done – I was amazed that throughout my pulse stayed about normal! – and I had endured the inevitably painful palpation, they eventually decided it was not appendicitis, more likely a viral gastroenteritis; this was somewhat reassuring, though I knew more days of unpleasant pain lay ahead.

Things are improving slowly but noticeably, I have more energy today, have done a few necessary things, am appreciating the enforced snail’s pace that I can manage comfortably.  Perhaps I needed the slowdown anyway.

In the longer term, I am not forced to stay in a frustrating or pointless job merely to maintain my health cover, I will not be presented with a bill I cannot pay in January, I can be confident that, for all its faults and difficulties, there is a big team of dedicated people making the NHS work where it matters.

It was a time of looking to the future and some far-sighted investment, when they rebuilt the battered country after ‘the war’, since which time our governments’ policies have become increasingly myopic, viz: the recent cuts in funds for flood and water management programs and for renewable energy generation in favour of fossil fuels.

I wish you all a healthy, happy and enduringly prosperous 2016.

 

After-shopping

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Saturday afternoon shopping for gifts, tiring but improved by the weather front passing quickly,  today, to give us a fine windy clear afternoon.
It’s been a busy week, during and after work, so I was happy to take it slow and explore alternative routes today. I tried following a cycle route, incomplete and poorly-marked as is the poor norm in UK. With some local knowledge I found a reasonably direct and pleasant way through, out of the speeding and impatiently-driven traffic.
I was even able to find gifts for my sister and girlfriend, so a mission accomplished.
Now I’m enjoying a reward of good coffee, tasty cake and the human ambience of a crowded cafe. I am surrounded by stories of lives I will never know. All I can do is appreciate their presence, like being in a library of books in many covers.

Tagged

We tend to label and categorise everything and everybody, it just seems to come naturally, it seems as ancient as the Biblical verse in which Adam was commanded to name all things. In our everyday situations it is mostly very useful. Even the words I’m using are a form of label, a set of symbols to stand in for my individual subjective experience and understanding of that
experience and that, I’m reasonably confident, you will interpret in a similar way
and we’ll have a workable understanding of what we’re each experiencing and
thinking. Mostly a pretty good system.
I got to thinking about how we label and categorise ourselves and how there are
times when it appears to me that the system is less useful, even harmful. These
questions started to arise in me after listening to some conversations between
people I know and noticing how thinking of themselves in a categorised way seemed to
affect and limit them… myself too, on reflection.
There are a lot of examples in the spectrum of labels and collective words we use,
from those which are helpful to those, like insults, which hurt and oppress. I’m
just going to pick out a few of those I think are in the middle, the positive to
neutral zone, and question their usefulness, or at least at what point they stop
being useful.

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‘Dog’ at Pride Amsterdam 2015

Identity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, race, role, I see so many
people limit their own options, for example in what relationships they are open to
forming, what opinions or tastes they may admit to having.

It extends to clothing, songs, music, food, so many things in which there is no benefit to these limits. I overheard a comment by somebody a while back, a member of a male gay couple,
‘correcting’ himself after saying that he found a certain woman quite
attractive: “oops, that’s a bid bad for a gay bloke, finding a woman sexy”. The
conversation was light-hearted, full of banter, but still that remark stood out for
me… did he feel he was breaking some kind of club rules? I wondered why he could
not just have that feeling, declared or not, and be free of guilt about it? I had a
sense of self-censorship, self-limiting ideas that appear at odds, to me, with the
hard ongoing struggle for ‘freedom’ to ‘be yourself’, whatever that really means.
Perhaps I just don’t hold on very strongly to tribal identities, nor feel a very
powerful need to, beyond what seems genuinely useful at certain times for practical
reasons – normal conversations, administration, sensible national security, group
cohesion for dealing with crises or tasks. So I can appreciate the long history
that the English, Welsh and Scottish branches of my forbears represent, while not
feeling bound by them to eat porridge with salt in the traditional Scottish way when I find it much more pleasant to add cinnamon and other sweet things…
Similarly, it is possible, and less stressful, to be a ‘man’ and even described as
‘straight’ without having to be aggressive towards others, only appreciate the
beauty of female bodies, always be ‘in control’ and so on, with all the harm that
brings to the world.
So how to loosen the ties of the labels we adopt and use, so that they are no more
inconvenient and constraining than temporary luggage labels?
The sun is shining on a crisp, cool Autumn day. I want to visit a manor,
owned by the National Trust. For a few hours, I will be able to be the ‘owner’, able
to enjoy the manor and estate with little more constraint than those who had it built.
And I don’t have to pay the bills or worry about roof repairs!
Have a good day, don’t let your labels trip you up!