Friday, June 29


I'm writing this in the plane.

You come adrift from the support system of home/job/cellmate, and tumble happily into the new support system of the airline, with its food, films and waves of booze. You're installed in your own wee adjustable pod/bed, fussed over by cabin crew. For some reason, each seat has an airbag. In a plane? WTF!

Letting go, there's an endorphin rush and feelings of gratitude, benevolence. Of course, from the airline's point of view it's just business. Like a prostitute, they're faking it. But that's beside the point. My gratitude is emotional, not rational, and it's toward the universe, not a business.

If it's toward any individuals, it's probably to the pension plan, who despite being a massive pain will probably bung me part or all of the airfare; and to the cellmate, who despite our many faults has stuck with the unconventional relationship that is our emotional home base. Our elastic ties allow her to head west to Europe, stopping in Asia to work. Meanwhile I head east to meet her, but via North America. When we come together next month, we'll slot into our flawed approximation of teamwork. Then after a week in Bavaria, we split again - she back home, and I to the old country.

I know this trip is an indulgence, an environmental sin, and a waste of money, but I have no other vices and I deserve one.

I'm blootered, by my standards at least. I may have to delete this in the morning, but for now I'll catch up on old episodes of Big Bang Theory until I fall into a drunken sleep.

Well everything has to balance up, and after a short nap you wake to a dose of reality. The crew have turned off the lights and are nattering behind a curtain. Initially they were all smiles and "would you like some more champagne?", now it's "sorry, we've run out of potato chips". The booze has worn off, everything smells of toilet, and you realize you're in a flying latrine. The movies are old and awful - the least boring one on offer is The Sound Of Music!

And the flight attendants on this airline are not exactly Singapore standard. Some are nearly as old as Albert, obviously chosen for their work ethic rather than physical grace, which is kind of as it should be I suppose.

Thursday, June 28

farm zoo

Ever the nomad, Cap'n Kev is minding a friend's farm/zoo, somewhere in Australia. The owner of the place has made it a sort of half-Noah's ark, with one of each species.

Kev sent this picture for publication.

If you look closely you can work out what the white thing is.

Wednesday, June 27

transit between worlds

Started the big trip to the old world, by getting up at 3 am, then took the first bus of the day (breaking in my pensioners pass) all the way to the airport. Even though I use that bus often, I found it hard to recognize the scenery en route. Either because of the ungodly hour, or I've had a minor stroke.

BTW there was a time when it seemed the black spot would do for me, even though it doesn't run in my family. Surviving that may have allowed me to live long enough to meet a stroke head on (which does run in the family). It all balances up over time.

Anyway, I enjoyed staring into space on the bus. And the feeling of lightness. Leaving everything behind. I reckon a good death would feel a bit similar, especially if you managed to die with everything still in working order.

Free breakfast here in the frequent flyer lounge includes all the booze you can drink. What a shame I can't use it, nor send it to bloggy chums who'd know what to do with it.

In the paper they're on about Scotland's coming independence. Then, for the benefit of their NSC readers, they list three great Scots: Walllace, Rob Roy, and Sean Connery.

popular rock music

3rd anniversary of Michael Jackson's death. I watched the film of his last rehearsals. Better than an actual concert, it showed him as a musical director and choreographer. I had always thought of him as just a competent singer of his own songs. Sure, he was wacko, but so probably was Mozart.

I made the mistake of watching in bed, and then the beat kept me awake. The songs are fairly slight if you listen critically, and if anyone else covered them, they'd sound empty.

Somebody, perhaps Guns n Roses, covered Sympathy For The Devil, showing up the song's weakness.

The granny groupie at work told me the Stones are definitely retiring next year.

Sunday, June 24

and still they drop like flies

My former office mate, who took umbrage last year and refused to share a room any more, has just been diagnosed with cancer. We made it up a few months ago, and I hope to visit her on my return from Europe. Makes me think of poor Dazzle who was diagnosed just after I set off on my world tour in 1989, and by the time I got back he was dead.

The office mate could have retired a few years back, but she insisted on keeping working.

I'm ready to go back to part-time work, but sadly I've committed to working full time till Christmas. Roll on 2013.

Thursday, June 21

travelling together, albert-style

I only know Albert's side of the story, so I can't offer a balanced view. Albert says the reason he and the cellmate can never fly anywhere on the same plane or even the same day, is because of their divergent strategies for planning and packing.

For the cellmate, the best way to spend the weeks before travel is:

(1) Go out every night with a different friend. By the time you get on the plane, you feel exhausted but completely connected to everyone in your life. Actually, written down like that it looks quite sensible really! A downside is that you end up doing your packing at the last minute, and forget half of what you need.

(2) Decide shortly before the trip that you need to redecorate and refurnish the whole house. Call in a designer, and make a load of impulsive and expensive decisions at a time when you're both already overstressed at work and at home.

Albert himself prefers the normal travel preparation strategies:

(1) Start packing a month beforehand.

(2) Cut off from other people, spend the last few weeks working on lists and elaborate systems. By the time you get on the plane, you feel completely alone and completely in control of everything. Actually, written down like that it doesn't look quite normal after all.

Monday, June 11


Three weeks after my shoes and walking poles left the Bavarian warehouse, they still hadn't arrived here. And nobody could tell me where they were. Disappeared off the system.

I initiated a formal search by the carrier, and the very the next morning the parcel arrived at my door. I thought: aha! I know what's happened! It must have been sitting on the quayside, while the New Caledonian dockers got on with more pressing matters - poker, their own drug shipments, and preparing strike plans. They only get off their backsides after someone actually complains. Typical!

But then I looked at my address on the parcel - instead of New South Caledonia, it said Tasmania. Those efficient Bavarians had managed to detour my shipment via Australia! What's the world coming to, when you can't even rely on stereotypes?

Saturday, June 9

the shoes and the jazztrack truth

One of the reasons I stopped jogging years ago is the amount of overhead involved. Warm-ups, switching clothes and shoes, walking to the park and back. It puts you off before you start.

On a whim last week I pumped up the tyres and rode to the big park, where I jogged for a careful 5 minutes or more, without a lot of time-wasting preparation. The cycling served as the warm-up, and I didn't bother with jogging shoes - when you land on your toes, you don't need all that heel cushioning. It was a qualified success - although my lungs got some insight into how asthma must feel, at least I didn't bust or twist anything. And I got a great sleep that night.

Today I streamlined things further, by using the smaller park, 3 minutes' walk down the hill from the house. No need to get out the bike and helmet. And no need to warm up, as I had just been on the home gym. Last week's run must have blown the remnants of the infection out of my chest, because this time I felt much better, and even broke into a trot on the walk back up the steep hill. Obviously I think about my dear dog at these times, but life is still rather good, isn't it?

And just now I switched on the 24-hour jazz radio station here, in the middle of a mesmerising improvisation. I tried to guess who it was. Not Coltrane. Nor George Coleman. Then who?

It turned out to be a popular piece by Oliver Nelson, the black American jazz composer and saxophonist.

Once or twice in my life I've heard marvellous music by him, but never really followed up on it. There are much bigger names than him in jazz of the 50s/60s, but he's especially muscular and exciting. As gifted as Mingus but more direct. Today I'm downloading, at last, the best bits of the album, The Blues And The Abstract Truth. Life gets better and better (sometimes).

I doubt whether anyone's interested, but here's a link. I'm using Blogger's anaemic app, so I can't make it clickable.

Sunday, June 3

on being an @rsehole

The garden cancer has been poisoned, and the backyard trees have been slaughtered. The shower screen's finally installed. I've almost finished the work of booking Albert's flights, trains, hotels and a car. Even the lingering lung disease seems to be tailing off.

You'd think I might have earned the right to be left alone, but no! Last night I had to go to the theatre on a free ticket, chauffeured by the cellmate. It came after a whole day at work, including 4 hours with the annoying yet charming client. Before and after the play I behaved worse than a child, whingeing, belittling the cellmate in public, arguing boorishly with her friends, sneering and harrumphing. Sitting in the audience before the start, I was wearing headphones to block out the worst of the chatter. When one of our group asked if I'd be taking the 'phones off later, I shouted (because of the headphones) "yes, when everyone shuts the eff up". Someone should really have taken me aside and offered to punch me. If only I was a social drunk, like normal people, I would be able to stand these occasions.

Now that the old dear's dead, I'm turning into her. For most of my life I was nicety nice, but now I seem to be discovering my inner #%!#. It's all balancing up, but I wonder if I'll live long enough to achieve full balance.

PS the play was by Eugene O'Neill, Strange Interlude.