I never thought I’d see this day. I still cannae believe I’m here. Somebody pinch me…
Life is exciting, and worthwhile. We start off scared, and then we grow a pair. We realise that we’re all making it up as we go along – and that everyone else is doing the same thing. Basically, life is fleeting: there is no dress rehearsal. The show goes out live.
And here we have a fine example: USERS. An original play, inspired by Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. A collaborative effort by Liverpool’s finest community theatre group: Tell Tale.
The cast. A talented group of individuals, always ready to rise to the challenge. They are all wonderful – or, they would be, if they’d only SHUT UP for five minutes.
The techies. Often unappreciated, always modest. They think they’re six years old when someone shows up with a cherry picker.
The production team. They may not be stood at the front, but you know they’ve got your back.
The audience. You entertained us, and I hope that we entertained you.
And last but not least. The proud directors. The honest, hardworking directors. Generous. Loyal. Dependable. Emma & Leanne!
Give it a go, they said. You might enjoy it, they said. You won’t regret it, they said.
I remember when I used to sit in the audience, and think, “not me”. I used to just laugh at you crazy people. Laugh and cry.
Then you convinced me to go for it. And I did. “Fuck it”, I thought. I’ll try anything once. Never just the one though… is it?
Life’s boring and futile, eh? Well, I wouldn’t know about that.
This is pure brilliant … ah’m fuckin buzzin here!
If I didn’t talk to myself, no one would listen to me
It’s been a while since I wrote anything, and for some reason I feel the need to explain myself. You know: for all those imaginary people out there, holding their collective breath, hanging on my every word.
Not that I haven’t been writing. It’s just been unsuitable for broadcast, for one reason or another. I write for myself - just to get it all out - but obviously I can’t post that. It’s too much of a rambling mess.
I also tell myself, from time to time, that I’m writing a book. At least, I think it’s a book. It has a lot of words, which seems to be the accepted definition these days. I’m not sure what it is, but I can’t post that either. For reasons other than it being a rambling mess, I mean.
I’ll stop short of an apology or - God forbid - a promise to try harder. If I do that I’ll be doomed for sure.
You can breathe now.
Paralysed by Possibility (I don’t know what to do with myself)
When I got my motorbike, I looked forward to the freedom it would grant me. There would still be constraints - time, money, weather, and so on - but the feeling was nonetheless palpable. One obstacle to my freedom I hadn’t anticipated, however, was my own indecision.
Today, the weather outside is beautiful. There’s no wind, and I have hours until the sun sets. Perfect picture-taking weather. I can think of one or two places I could go back to, and new places I’ve yet to see. But I also want to go to the supermarket, and the library. I could do with getting a new lamp too, so I can read at night. And so on.
But instead, I sit here paralysed by possibility, not knowing what to do with myself. So I do what I always do. I write.
On Adventure (or: why I can’t stop thinking about Skyrim)
Yesterday, whilst on my way back from a brief foray into Wales on my bike, it occurred to me that I’ve been living my life like I’ve been playing a fantasy role-playing game.
I’m no LARPer, but I’ve long been a fan of one tradition of RPG in particular: the Elder Scrolls series. I played Morrowind before I left home, and I daresay it helped to instill a hunger for adventure in me, even as I was still at school. That adventure would turn out to be University, which was over by the time I came to play the fourth game in the series (my second).
Even though much had changed in the intervening years, something about the spirit of those games was still very much hard-wired into my psyche. The world they presented was one of almost total freedom: you could follow the paths laid out for you, or you could tread your own. They encouraged you to explore, to be inquisitive, to start fights you could never win. The games transcended their fantasy setting (as proven when they transferred the setting to one of post-apocalyptia in the Fallout games) by creating a fully realised world of opportunity.
But these games - to me, at least - were more than just a “sandbox” for you to play in. They were populated by hundreds of people, many of whom were happy to tell their story. More than that, they invited you to invent a narrative of your own. They challenged you to exercise your freedom, and even whilst you knew it would be impossible to experience it all, that wasn’t going to stop you straying into one more cave. I was never one to consciously create a role for myself in such games: I was more likely to behave moreorless as I would in the real world. Usually that meant being good rather than evil, sly rather than reliant on brute strength, and overcome by an overwhelming impulse to climb over the next ridge just to see what’s there.
Time Is Ripe
My chilli plant has been through a lot. A year ago, it was a two-leafed little orphan. By the summer it had grown ten chillies. Then summer was cut short, and hurricane left-overs blew it off my first-floor windowsill. I managed to rescue most of the chillies, but they were far from ready to be picked. It was a devastating blow.
It’s also been infested by aphids all through the summer, and although most were killed by spraying it with soapy water, the plant was clearly suffering. Earlier in the year my flat had been infested by ladybirds, but when I needed them most, they were nowhere to be seen.
Then we had an unexpected surge of sunshine, and it flowered once more. The fruits returned, and so did the ladybirds. Now the aphids are on the retreat, and the chillies are beginning to ripen at last.
The nights may be drawing in, but I can tell the fires are still burning away inside.
#001 on Flickr.
This is the first photo I uploaded to Flickr, back in 2004 (I was 17). I’ve uploaded 1,166 photos since then. So much has changed.
The original caption reads as follows:
I frequently pass this road, and I used to want to take a look down it. It doesn’t go far, at least, not as far as it seems. It’s fenced off too, often locked. So many people pass it by and never notice it. Something is always burning amidst the trees down there. It’s like the path you may never go down, but always wonder where it may lead.
But I did stray down that road, in the end. It turns out it goes much further than anyone would have guessed. But here I am, seven years later, still torturing metaphors. Some things never change.
Ceci n’est pas une métaphore
It occurred to me late last night that if this blog is without direction, it’s because my life is without direction. In other words, this blog itself is a tortured metaphor for my life. How’s that for self-reference?
Speaking of self-reference, if you are in Liverpool don’t miss the Magritte exhibition at the Tate. It’s on until 16th October, and it’s great.
A Journey I’ll Never Forget
The train was heaving. I made my way through the coaches, searching for my seat. All I could think was, “I hope there’s no one sitting in it.” The numbers crept ever closer, and I could feel the foreboding. I didn’t want to have to make anyone move.
The reason I was still looking for my seat now - after being on the train for more than an hour - was because I had been sat in someone else’s seat, and they had asked me to move. And quite rightly too: if I had sat in the right seat in the first place, I wouldn’t be looking for it now. It’s not as though I could refuse.
But that didn’t make it any easier to ask someone else to move. I didn’t want a confrontation. I just wanted to sit down, listen to some music, and stare out of the window.