Ferry across the Mersey … of my life

”The steamer Mongolia, belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Company, built of iron, of two thousand eight hundred tons burden, and five hundred horse-power, was due at eleven o’clock a.m. on Wednesday, the 9th of October, at Suez. The Mongolia plied regularly between Brindisi and Bombay via the Suez Canal, and was one of the fastest steamers belonging to the company, always making more than ten knots an hour between Brindisi and Suez, and nine and a half between Suez and Bombay.”

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Jackup semisub barge tugboat
Marine tonnage – my daily grind & night time dreams.

The year A.D. 2017. Month October. Any given day.

Banned from using the word ‘busy’, I’m left with ‘occupied’, ‘challenged’, ‘full’, ‘hectic’, ‘exacting’ … or perhaps the more positive, ‘full’, to describe my life. “It’s the new normal,” you say. “Same for you, then?” I reply.

What’s the saying I’m looking for … You are what you eat? Dogs resemble their masters? Stupid is as stupid does? Continue reading Ferry across the Mersey … of my life

Lacking the creative juices

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.”

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

The great artist in the sky is poised, pencil in hand, en train de dessiner.

He is drawing me.

Imagine the cartoon me. I’m sketchy and one-dimensional at present. I sit on a park bench along the Thames in the shade of a great plane tree. Millions of bottoms before me have sat on this very bench. Seagulls fly and cry high above me. Ducks drift past on the tide. I sit. I stare. Continue reading Lacking the creative juices

Building Castles in the Sky

Chutzpa, chutspa, chutzpadik – Pronounced KHOOTS-PAH; rattle that kh around with fervour; rhymes with ‘Foot spa’. Do not pronounce the ch as in ‘choo-choo’ or ‘Chippewa’, but as the German ch in Ach! or the Scottish in ‘loch’. Hebrew: ‘insolence’, ‘audacity’. Gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible ‘guts’; presumption-plus-arrogance such as no other word, and no other language can do justice to.

The Joys of Yiddish By Leo Rosten

Seaside 'cottage' ideasOn Sunday morning I lead prayers at church. It had been an emotionally charged week in London. I dreaded standing in front of the congregation. Over 70 people had recently died in the Grenfell Tower fire not far from where I live, fires raged in Portugal and the news was still full of recent terror attacks.

I now dread my 7am wake-up with BBC Radio 4.

In May I’d readily volunteered to do prayers, but as my turn drew near, I wondered if I really had it in me. What would I say? How would I create the right balance between silence and words? Continue reading Building Castles in the Sky

Plodding along

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps on this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.”

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

London winter sunsets

Oh, Shakespeare! You had me at tomorrow.

You’ve heard me say your first draft has permission to suck.  That’s still true even though our first draft of 2017 has been unexpectedly fractious and gruelling. Call it seasonal affective disorder, call it one problem after another, call it what you like. So far, 2017 is not the post-2016-solve-all that it promised to be (promised as in the promise communicated to me over a glass of Champagne on New Years Eve). Continue reading Plodding along

One More Fact

“He read the words again, holding his candle close to the frame, to light them. Then he went to the table, opened his bottle of ink, turned to a clean page in his journal, dipped his pen and wrote: ‘January 27th 1898: At St Matthias Mission there is an odd sense of predestination …’ He looked up and gazed a moment at the text on the wall, returned to the page and added, ‘It is strange how strongly I feel it. What it is I do not know, but I shall leave before it takes me in. I shall leave before I am its victim.”

Shades by Marguerite Poland

ShadesSo the story goes, a family worked in Asia as missionaries for OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship). They lived and served among the Asian people in a small community, becoming quite close to many of them. One day a woman they knew well and had spent much time with, turned on them in an angry tirade. She said things that were untrue and hurtful and their relationship with her seemed to be broken.

The family were devastated. It had taken many months, even years, to build trust in the community. Now it was ruined. Continue reading One More Fact

Two weeks into September, into work, into autumn at 31 deg C

“A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.”

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

the working life“A campaign for a 4 day week you say? Let’s vote for that!” said …. pretty much everyone.

Dreaming aside, it actually did happen. From 1st January to 7th March 1974 UK Prime Minister Edward Heath initiated a 3 day week as a measure to save electricity during a rather torrid period brought on by the second major coal miners strike in two years.

If we could travel back in time to the United Kingdom between 1972 and 1974, I think we might find it was rather a dark time – and I don’t just mean because the lights were turned off. Continue reading Two weeks into September, into work, into autumn at 31 deg C

Norway: Nyama, the King and the big boulder … and the VOH

“Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

10km return climb to Kjeragbolten Sitting on my bottom, edging my foot onto the boulder and trying hard not to look down at the 3200ft abyss below, I had one of those out of body experiences.

On the one hand, a more sensible Nyama looked on from a safe distance wondering almost out loud whether anyone had ever fallen to their death on this spot. She also seriously doubted whether in fact the Nyama on the rock really did have it in her to stand on the Kjeragbolten. Continue reading Norway: Nyama, the King and the big boulder … and the VOH