Saturday September 24, 2005
Hello dear friends – it may look like I have fallen of the edge of the sometimes flat planet I inhabit but I’m still here, crawling around on my hands and knees trying to find the mousehole which led me into the skirting boards.
I have crossed the great divide between life on Planet Bonkers and Mushugna Acadaemia. The good news is there are days when I get to wear my favourite old checked shirt. Apparently it was my brother’s. Very interesting.
I will be back but not before the pets are fed, the chicken biryani has been collected and the rest. Thanks folks.
Oh, yes – and my comments are Out Of Order too. All soon to be fixed…..
Tuesday August 16, 2005
Strange times here behind London and the North. Times of change, of reflection, of horrid angst and glimpses of calm. The Daily Headache could have been the title of an alternative blog for quite some time now. However I am about to change jobs and pressing the delete button a thousand times on my pc at work has been most cathartic. I have had the most warm and kind goodbye messages from colleagues and clients. And, after many years of belonging to a great team, I have gone through the process of a leaving do. Next week is pack your bags day. Furthermore I am starting to believe that I will be okay and will rise to the challenge of the new job.
A trip to Shrewsbury for its annual Flower and Vegetable Show was great. I just love the madness of people exhibiting their extra long carrots and extra fat onions with pride. It’s completely barking but has its own aesthetic. I am ready to go in for some wild planting schemes after seeing the show. I hadn’t realised how conservative my decisions about colour have been.
Wednesday August 10, 2005
In these strange times of a superficial joined upness – “Londoners”, for example, it is a help to me to find an article on patriotism by George Monbiot » The New Chauvinism.
I don’t hate Britain, and I am not ashamed of my nationality, but I have no idea why I should love this country more than any other. There are some things I like about it and some things I don’t, and the same goes for everywhere else I’ve visited. To become a patriot is to lie to yourself, to tell yourself that whatever good you might perceive abroad, your own country is, on balance, better than the others. It is impossible to reconcile this with either the evidence of your own eyes or a belief in the equality of humankind.
There was an interesting comment thread in Going Underground a couple of weeks ago after Annie Mole was asked not to photograph the police or the underground station. Her experience got a big reaction with lots of people defending the police. It was as though dissent means antisocial. One point Monbiot doesn’t make strongly enough is the intimidation of free speech. Well, he implies it. But if one of the values “we” want to defend (protect?) is free speech, it sure ain’t coming across at all levels of the government, media and conversation.
Tuesday August 02, 2005
What happened here? Something built up beneath the surface and then it cracked?
Every bit of the island speaks of volcanic activity.
These surfaces are from this bulge above.
I found this somewhere and while I can’t understand how it applies to the geology of Iceland, it makes perfect sense to me in social terms :
In the first presentation of the section the Icelandic crust and melting processes due to the Iceland plume, D ANIELA KÜHN presented models on dyke – dyke interaction during dyke ascent. She pointed out that dyke propagation beneath a spreading ridge depends both on the external stress field and the stress field produced by previously ascended dykes. The models show that a sheeted dyke complex will be the result of propagating neighbouring dykes under the constraints of an external extensive stress field. Without extension, several dykes will accumulate near to each other following their ascent through the crust and probably result in the formation of a magma chamber.”
Klausen, M.B. 2001: Thickness distributions of dykes and sheets. 4th International Dyke Conference, June 24-29. Ithala, South Africa.
Thursday July 28, 2005
The photos of the great Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson.
And my travelling companion. My great support through blizzardous conditions!
Saturday July 23, 2005
I’m glad I went to London yesterday. I had been in such a bad way the previous evening as a result of a profoundly undermining experience that I hadn’t been sure I was up to working the next day. But I went and I was okay enough.
What P had described was true. London was very subdued. Much quieter. Fewer sirens – as if there had been an informal review of what counts as a priority.
I walked my usual route along the back streets from Kings Cross. I couldn’t pass Russell Square tube. It was cut off by opaque plastic sheeting. There was a strange tent marquee and there was a freestanding blue and red sign “Tescos in Russell Square is now open”. In another small marquee was a wreath in the shape and colours of a red and blue London Underground logo. And a remembrance book. I felt choked. I’m not sure what at. The earnestness of people around me, the shock at something big having happened. I didn’t feel sad about the loss of life. I don’t think I did. I was very upset. But it’s hard to work out what upset is about sometimes when you are still shocked and things are still unclear.
I felt safe enough walking through the streets. When a path is so well trodden and familiar in sights, sound, smell, it assumes a sense of onwardness and getting there. Unless there were to be some massive interuption.
I noticed that there appeared to be no-one sitting upstairs in the buses.
A friend of mine told me a story this week. She said she had been travelling into work on the tube and had become increasingly frightened by a young man who had a rucksck and who was fiddling nervously with his mobile phone. By the time she got to work she felt quite wound up and told a colleague about her experience. He replied “You think you’re nervous?” and proceded to tell her how he had taken his son to school in the city centre that morning by bus (apparently, his son now rushes for seats downstairs instead of the previously preferred upstairs) and there was a young man with a rucksack. The colleague of my friend insisted and insisted that this man open his rucksack and reveal its contents.
I was very aware that I should take my rucksack to the loo with me when I needed to use it on the train. I joked with a bloke also wearing a rucksack while we were waiting for the train to pull into Kings Cross. “Now don’t leave that rucksack lying around anywhere”. We both laughed nervously and he told me that he had heard that some Asian youths in Leeds had been stirring things up by deliberately leaving rucksacks on buses. I bet this isn’t true. An urban rucksack myth. P says so many Asian lads are so disaffected and alienated by a racist, separatist set of societies that she could imagine some might.
Whatever happens next, however all this stuff progresses, the associations with rucksacks will have changed – for a very long time.
About a million years ago now I wrote a piece for Ecotone about my rucksack. It’s current contents include:
My new fountain pen
Black writing book with black elastic to keep it closed
“Hope in the dark” by Rebecca Solnit
A borderline dead apple
Bottle of water
Emergency glucose for P unopened
Earphones for radio in phone
Thursday July 21, 2005
Swimming in Iceland is quite unlike anywhere I have ever been. It’s not a tourist thing or even a municipal thing. It’s an everyday thing.
But it’s more than that. Pools are part of the local landscape in most towns and villages. The waters are not chlorinated and they are geothermally heated. Meaning, from the earth’s hot springs.
So we went swimming every day, outdoors – there are only outdoor pools. And showered very thoroughly first as per the instructions on the diagrams in the changing rooms.
We had just finished a tour of a most remote peninsula when we came across a swimming pool sign by the road, turned off and drove four kilometres along a dirt track. At the end was this splendid pool by a river, no entrance fee and the attendant, for there was one, supplied excellent coffee at no charge. It was very warm that day and a few people were lying around on sunbeds or in the hot tubs talking and staring.
I floated around for ages wishing I had an underwater camera to capture the amazing patterns in the wavy reflections on the bottom of the pool.
The blue lupins, by the way, were growing everywhere and brought the often barren landscape to life.