But is it Art?

onstage

I walked out of a gig last week.

It had started as a good local night out, local bands, local pub, friends, silly conversation etc. The Facebook suggestion from the bass player of a band I know (who wasn’t playing) had me fighting introversy and winning, heading out to save my Friday night, saving me from a trip to where I didn’t really want to go. Disgusting Danish delicacies were discussed, beards compared (I lost), and, Will, the good sound man chatted to – he hadn’t got my message, so maybe we can’t have him for my gig at the same venue in November :-(. He’s the only one that can make the vocals sound not-crap in there. It’ll happen, I’ll sweet talk his boss…

Then the last band came on. The one from Guilfest, where the frontman had actually been amusing. Now it was a carcrash of destruction both physical and mental. It wasn’t about the music. Again, I find myself distanced and immune to what seems to be a certain charisma. I feel a deep sense of wrong – I should not be supporting this.

I’m not sure if we, the audience, by our presence, are treating mental illness as a freakshow, or consenting to being manipulated by a smiling sociopath. Either concept fills me with a very strong distaste. No-one else seems the least bit troubled.

I leave.

I still don’t know what to make of that.

Gone baby gone

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I’ve been shockingly bad at keeping this blog up to date. Some busy days, some with all spare time lost to getting extra sleep, making up for wakeful nights.

Big news is: The boat is sold! Not a great price – timing didn’t quite work to set up a bidding war (2nd serious-sounding prospect turned up just a couple of days too late). None of that matters, any offer at all was great in this climate, and before we had to cough up another year’s yard fees! Deposit is now in, sale contingent on some pre-launch work, which will take both me and the co-owner. That’s set up for the last weekend of the month. Gonna take 2 brains to recall how she’s rigged, and 2 sets of limbs to get the job done. I’m going to be a bit stressed until it’s finished, for all sorts of reasons, obvious and not. But once it’s done its done. Makes my spreadsheets rather happier. Not as happy as I’d like.

I can’t shake that desire to be totally free from the need to ‘earn a living’, despite that I know trying to get there is probably another kind of trap. I found some old boat sketches – the ambitious mini-schooner stage of dreaming.  Though the rig owes a little to Westerly ketches I think… I don’t mind some work, just not a dull grind every single bloody day til I die. I’ve not found anything yet that will do that for me. The vocal coaching has stumbled. The course is great if you are already a teacher – but you are left pretty much on your own when it comes to gaining the confidence through actual practice on real students – especially if you want to be able to teach the less experienced, and those that have never heard of the CVI or its terminology. I was bitten too hard in my brief foray into sailing instruction to jump right in now, and I’d feel too lost. Plus 6K year… So, hmm. Currently on the backburner,  couldn’t rejoin for nearly a year anyway, so no hurry to for a decision.

I continue to have some bloody good dumps :-). Despite the fact that I seem to live at the municipal tip (and that I unloaded a reasonable pile of books to a friend) it still doesn’t look like I’ll be able to fulfill my fantasy of getting it down to a car load – which puts the economics of keeping the car at all in doubt (major service, Road Tax, possibly MOT and probably tyres all looming rather imminently). I bought it a new numberplate, so at least might look presentable for sale if I do go that way.

Have a lead on sorting the R1, a local collector / restoration business called 2WheelsMiklos. The idea that fleetingly occurred to me last week, that it might be the long-dead alarm/immobiliser, was the first thing his tech suggested – so he’s ripping that out for me Weds. Then maybe we’ll talk a fuller restoration. Be nice to have the bike back as spry, nimble and shiny as 16 years ago. Be nice to have me back in that state too – but that’s a harder job…

Back from the Moon

[picture from www.astrofoto.ca]

I could do it.

I could drag myself back onto the track of eating the right things, exercising properly, schedule the bejesus out of my daily life to fit in more music practice, more language practice. Fill my work days with going that extra mile, supporting my technical career development or whatever bullshit. Bend it to my own future freelancing needs. Promote my bands. Play my own stuff more. Stick to it. Fight and fight and fight. Achieve achieve achieve. Follow up on progress in Berlin more. Scrimp. Save. Squeeze every last £ and p out of my current possessions to fund my future life.

I’ve done that. I’ve sacrificed for my dreams. Years in the trenches of the City banks, trying to buy my freedom. Hooking up with startups – getting involved, caring. Caring about being competent, about being good about doing it right. Thinking there was a right way. Thinking that that made a difference. Running to stand still. Making it out. In good company, free … then over too soon, running away from running away… adversity driving us apart, driving us into ourselves, rather than bringing us together.

What do you do when you come back from the Moon and no-one’s going to Mars? I’m Buzz, not Neil. Lost.

I don’t want to compete with the whole goddamned world. But that’s what we see, every day. What we hear. The best, brightest, most beautiful, hardest working, most lucky, best connected. You can thrash yourself into the ground and still never be one of them.

I’m tired of competing with myself.

I want to be doing things that matter to more than me, but not feel like I have to save the world. To be involved, to do real things that really make a difference. To have people who care I exist – to care for them in turn. To sleep when I am tired, not stuff myself with sugar and caffeine to “keep going” through another pointless set of abstract tasks. To have the dignity of time.

I want this for everyone.

I want to enjoy, to live and to be happy so doing. I never learned this – did you?

But maybe, just maybe, there’s hope …

marsOne

Reflection

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There’s a long post lurking in me about life on a human scale. How our exposure to way too much of the whole damned world, even in selected portions, warps us, oppresses rather than uplifts. How our lives running crosstide to our physical selves pulls us ever further from content, as we drive ourselves to damage. This may not be it, not yet. It may end up music, I don’t know yet. It may end up nothing, like too much. The whole notion may hold wrapped within it a deep and bitter irony – after all, I’d be writing about our individual inability to affect the world on the level of the vastness and complexity to which we are exposed, knowing, knowing all the while that what we see, though too much, is only a tiny part of the whole.

I cannot be comfortable with powerlessness. I cannot be fatalistic. I don’t know if that’s wisdom or idiocy. I can no more help it than the colour of my eyes, it’s not a choice.

There is a little world that is mine, and all that is in it is precious, but I cannot pull into just that, cannot pull back from the awareness of the wider world. The issues that I cannot solve, cannot influence, cannot control – those huge world-scale problems – they could take each of our little worlds apart, any time.

There’s no delusion I can paint over it with and live a life unaware.

There’s no comfort I can give to anyone else aware of the same, nor they I.

I have no power.

I have no answers.

 

There must be some mistake – this ain’t the life I’m supposed to live

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Had a decent gig in Dorking Saturday night, including epic de-parking from small gap into tight lane. No idea if the way I went was the *correct* One Way (for surely a road only just as wide as a car is a one way) but it was the only way the car was getting posted out of there, and there was no-one about >:-). Gig went in a blur, barely felt it. Perhaps because there was no room to move onstage – or because most folks were smoking out in the back yard…. Should put gigs on in the smoking areas in pub, really should – it’s where everyone hangs out after all! Gigs always seems over so fast… wish it could last.

Sunday dawns, not feeling so shiny. Can’t shake the feeling that this is not my life. Need to. Or I won’t be living it.

Achievements today: food shopping (incorporating walk), washing, hoovering, dishes, cleaning bathroom. That shit doesn’t do itself. Sadly. Bonuses: enjoying some unexpected sunshine, getting some nice messages from friends. Clearly my FB statuses are a bit too revealing. Not that I bang on or whinge, just the flavour of the day seeps through. I am not even tying my shoelaces for FB drama of the day, however – seems many folks are in a bad place right now, finding it hard to see a way out :-(

I continued with eating too many mandarins, just about letting myself slack off and be okay with it. With saying “Fuckit, I am going to sit in the garden in the unexpected sun”. When the sun went, I continued my harmless self-indulgence with a Sunday afternoon Western. (3:10 to Yuma). reminds me of childhood when my sister and I would watch old B&W John Wayne films on the TV… The next film I stuck on in the background was 30 Days of Night … with the same actor playing a nutter as played the psycho Charlie in 3:10 to Yuma. I’ve seen both films before, but long ago. I have no idea if my brain in the background, knew this and decided to amuse me with co-incidence.

Been musing on why it’s hard to get together with someone as you get older. We all go off down our own path of eccentricities and unless you grow into the same ones together over years, we are all so divergent that it’s hard to find just the right weirdo…

Popped down the Make Music Open Mic at the King’s Head and was thoroughly entertained and cheered up by conversations with Dan, Simon and Lol, and by some top jamming with loads of people on stage. Really enjoyed it.

Made my way back a bit early, to go pay a visit to a friend who was stuck in doing work all evening. Philosophical musings, tea and pillow envy. Us over 40s sure know how to rock!

Just About To See The Light

 
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My original problem was that I had no dipped beam. Full beam fine, all else fine. Both went suddenly, at once. Not the bulbs. Not the fuse. [by both visual inspection and swapping for known good]. I suspected the relay, too lazy to dismantle all that front fairing.. so… bike shop (along with a few other bits and bobs that needed doing)Local Yamaha Dealers failed to trace/fix. They won’t try again as they are out of ideas.

LAST WEEK: Fuel light comes on spuriously (had only 10 miles ago filled up!), Instruments flick off then on. Then fine …Bike not used for a week because I am away.

NOW: If I put headlamp switch on (it’s set to full beam) – display cuts out – totally dead occasionally flicking on with kinda random numbers/oil warning/fuel warning. No rev counter either, no indicators, no headlamp at all. Dunno about brake lights as I was riding! Put full beam off – get speedo etc back. But then if I switch “on” the indicator [doesn't actually seem to light up] – same instrument issue. When I stopped, I establish that I DO have brake lights. Haven’t checked if I have brake lights when I have indicators “on”.

So, some kind of breakdown under power load issue. Reg/rec? Alternator?

 
Hmm. Week later – 
Battery voltage (cold) 12.5 – okay {not super spiffy, but it starts, in any case}
Battery voltage (@5000rpm) 14.45 – okay
Alternator coil resistances (all) 0.5 ohm – okay [yes I subtracted lead resistance to get this figure]
 
Visual inspection of R/R connector and alternator connector – okay. No melting/blackening. Combined with the above readings I would say that the alternator and R/R are FINE…The bike shop had managed to connect up the indicators the wrong way round.  So it signalled left when switch was right and vice versa (plus had the parking lights on and flashed them too!). I rode it home like that!! … Wow. At least they have dragged the headlamp relays out where I can reach them. Fixed indicators (swapped connectors on left hand one) but no “click” and no dash light. So will have to think about that.
 
Volt meter across green/white and black/blue at dip beam relay with headlight switch on and in selector dipped beam position – 9.5 V. Should be enough? Maybe not, cos no lights… Move selector to full beam – horrible “buzzing” sound – short circuit? Use passing light switch instead (to rule out full beam switch itself) – horrible “buzzing” sound.
 
Using indicators still kills instruments /flicks the tacho, Oil/fuel dash lights – don’t work. Full beam dash light – dunno, never left it on

Parking lights work.
Tail lights work.
Brake lights work.
Neutral indicator works.
Horn works.
EXUP works.

Priming fuel pump – dunno – suspect it must.

From the wiring diagram, it looks like all the bits that don’t work share a common earth, so now PRIME SUSPECT! Conceptually (i.e. in the diagram) hung off the RH indicator … but now, where on earth is it located physically….????

 
Stay tuned (though I do now have the number of a friend-of-a-friend bike genius that I met in the pub Friday night).

Weissensee [CTL-SHIFT-HOME-DEL] … Copacabana

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So, we have a beach. In the park across the road. Well all the Berlin lakes seem to! For some reason, today it is free. Usually a few € for the day… Got bars, changing rooms, showers and cute little huts… and of course old people braving the water. I had fully intended to make use of the lake for a bit of swimming this trip, but a drop to sub-20C plus wind and little sun made me less than keen. Dunno what’s happened to me, I swum every day in the Baltic, even in the deep, dark, cold Eckernforde…. Might be something to do with actually having the luxury of a shower to wash my hair in here, instead of 2 laps of the boat and the little pump-up shower [Portable car washer with demand showerhead - ace bit of kit].

Those thoughts cause pain. Part of me can’t believe I am not still out there. I’ll be sitting at my desk but not believing it, something in me more than half expecting to be approaching the lock at Kiel, puzzling out the lights of Den Helder, raking in Dutch fishing boat chandleries – greeting the dawn on the way to adventure… It *can’t* all be behind me. But it must be. For my sanity I have to let it be. I have to find new adventures now. Still, the disorientation sometimes makes me cry. Grief takes its own sweet time, and maybe longer for those of us architects of our own demise.

Back to present. To Here and Now. To being Present.

After my wander, I set about Sunday-proofing my next trip – cycled up to Lidl to get a couple of phone top up credits, Edeka to get some giant tins of soup, Mac Geis for a cooking pot – yes I can cook – the old fridge/hob thingy works fine – been using it… not least to help me with my continuing alcohol free beer sampling.

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Oddly, I actually prefer the dirt-cheap Lidl one in the plastic bottle. A bargain at 39c … and something to drink that’s not coffee or herbal tea! [I bought a kettle first day this trip]. I got out my guitar and vaguely plunked on it.  I also bought (in the interests of establishing acceptable local comfort foods) chocolate (59c) and own brand “gold bears” (89c) from Edeka and sulked on my mat reading and checking the internet for most of the afternoon, before putting the bicycle in the cellar, and packing up all except my D’vices and sleeping setup into my “sea chest” (lidded plastic crate from Obi) and sticking that out of the way in a corner of the bathroom (dead last on the renovation list).

I know I should have made something more of my day, gone a proper explore, gatecrashed “Hack and Tell” down at c-base and “partied” geek-style all night long in the 80s spaceship… but I’d fundamentally run out of steam, and boring, adult sense prevailed, reminding me just how shitty I feel doing the journey + a day at work + jam night with sleep deprivation.

So, settled to bed (and unexpectedly, actually to sleep) by 9:30pm. Ready for the usual 4:15am wakeup and flight back to the UK.  Don’t want to leave. Have to – for now… back (if briefly) very soon…