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I’ve been slack on the entries, partly from the fact that I’ve taken to leaving my phone behind whenever possible, I  enjoy the freedom – but it means I take less pictures, and it’s the pictures that prompt the memories when I come to write.

Bike is back with me, in the nick of time Cinderella shall go to the airport! For a 6:20am flight, there’s no train. Grumble, grumble, bloody British public transport. For the Xmas/NY trip, I’ve booked a nearby guest house where I can leave the car til I get back – bike in Dec/Jan could be a bit hardcore. Did it, oh yes, in the deep dark cold of early 2013, every day to work, as my car lay in nearly as many pieces as my life – the one being slowly put back together, the other falling further apart…

I’ve cut my coffee consumption, cleaned diet, tried to get some exercise done. Skin’s not good, and coming into winter, with no holiday left, and no prospects of sun, that’s not good. I am unreasonably annoyed/sad about this, since I have actually been eating pretty well, sleeping fine, all the things not perfect, but I have strayed far further, for far longer and not had this happen.

I’m a little tired of being different right now. My self discipline, restraint, knowledge, planning – they get me a slightly nicer life. They’ve let me survive relationship breakups without practical [i.e. financial] issues that so many suffer in those circumstances. They’ve worked with my decent genetics to preserve my health, and keep a more youthful appearance. It’s nothing game changing though.

Ah, wait, though, giving up drinking might very well have been just that…

But still. It’d be nice to just buy sandwiches for lunch, instead of always making a salad. Drink a coffee. To go to the airport and have it be for a proper holiday, relaxed rather than optimally squeezed between work weeks. To fritter a little cash rather than think every time – “that has better uses”. To vegetate and be lazy when I felt like rather than know I have to exercise or my body will quickly find some way to rebel. To be happy with a normal life, grateful to have a job, to be a fully paid up member of the system. Instead of always fighting, somehow, to be free…

Creation is Rebellion

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[top centre photograph by John McMullan]

After establishing that we weren’t somehow playing the very African wedding next door, and avoiding getting a parking ticket (Brian the bassist was not so lucky) The Merton Manor social club gig went very well. Pro lighting guys and pro film crew, techs running Brian’s Prosonus desk which gave us full audio. My guitar was miked, so for once I could hear myself. Better not get used to it… There will be a video and audio for promo purposes, soon, I hope! Brian is doing the mixing. I’ll listen and wade in if and only if I think I need to.

My friend John came to the gig, and as well as taking the great picture above, he also made the kind of comment it makes a performer happy to hear. I mean there is hope, that some people get it. I can’t quote it verbatim, but it was along the lines of:

“You can tell you didn’t just get up there and do it. That you all have spent lots of time and effort over many years on practice, money on the gear, and effort on getting the connections to get the tech guys here. On eating right and exercising and dressing to look the part.”

Well, that last bit must just be directed at me and Craig the drummer :-) But joking aside, it’s good that it shows. One of the “natives”, an ex-biker-gang hanger out, a bit older than myself compared me to both Suzi Quattro and Cher. I’m not turning my nose up at that, not at all…

Now it’s the end of another work day, and I wish I felt like I deserve to sit down and relax. But that would be The System getting me where it wants me. To stop when I have done my bit for the corporate machine, and passively consume some media. Fighting it is an act of rebellion.

Every act of creation is rebellion.

Fighting or Forcing

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A few of the week’s highlights. More stuff chucked, Friday night sort-of out had (I must be the World’s Weirdest relationship Counsellor, it seems to be the weekend of people having or trying to avoid  Drama with Exes). Car seems to have voted that i spend money and keep it. So, spurred by a puncture, I got 4 new tyres. Round ones! Don’t laugh, several of the existing ones were NOT. Really. Service + cambelt + waterpump booked, I’ll even get the bonnet unbent at the place round the corner from Miklos. Just as well really, after an outburst of unseasonal summer with hot sun, it’s turned cold, then wet. Plus now it’ll get me to Germany when the time comes…

Been thoughtful post-boat. Really reconvinced that work is a waste of time. However, I don’t want to start a business. Glum about setting up to compete globally for freelance development (I am convinced software is going the way of music, photographs and writing. Another thing no-one wants to pay for, making corporate-wage-slavery or commissioned work being the only paying route). Nor do I want to be constantly scrabbling to come up with investment strategies, or worry about how to optimise my opportunities to earn money, to plan … oh I dunno… a renovate-and-rent empire using my existing property as collateral for the financing. It’s all such bollocks (though any actual design/create/build part is FINE) . I want a life, and I want to enjoy it – trouble is I was never trained for that – none of us were.

As Frank Zappa said: “Schools train you to be ignorant with style. They prepare you to be a usable victim of the military-industrial complex that need manpower. As long as you are just smart enough to do a job, but dumb enough to swallow what they feed you, you are going to be alright.”

I’ve spent most of my life either fighting myself or forcing myself. I’m good (but not perfect) at both, but I am tired.

I am still trying to work out how to freelance in Germany and not go broke paying for health insurance (which you have to have, and has so many conditions that hardly any companies do it). And I don’t even get sick!

My basic issue is that I irrationally really just don’t want to pay for it at all. I have never bought private cover in my life. (the odd company I’ve worked for permie has provided it). In the UK, if my co. has an income-free or low income period, I stop payroll and live off my personal savings. So the co. doesn’t go broke. That’s not an option with the German situation. One is either employed (company pays at least half) or one is unemployed (the govt then pays it all…). I’m frequently neither… certainly in my ‘ideal’ lifestyle.

Basically, it feel like I will be forced to work more than I want to just so that I can pay the damned health cover. No doubt I have it all wrong or I have been an immoral NI-dodging scumbag (but one who has, in fairness, also *not* been a dole scrounger…). There are DE ‘Government’ schemes (Krankenkasse) but they are not cheap… and their health system is STILL no better than the UK’s in terms of being funded out of current payments and so likely to go bust / have severe service limits due to an aging population… Ach, no doubt I am just whinging. I have fired an enquiry at a pro expat tax/insurance expert, so we’ll see what he says…

I’m not born or bred to this middle-class manouvering. Don’t like it.

Mission Accomplished

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A long weekend spent on a visit to the past, to somewhere that now no longer exists. Rebooted the mini-hive mind, networked the computers and got the mission done before the Cylons got us. Took it for what it was, worked hard, got the job done. The weather was perfect – Molly has always had the weather luck when she’s needed work.

So, boat done, sold, handed over, new owner literally shown the ropes and pleased as punch despite minor imperfections.

Came back to a speeding ticket, personal life stuff to sort, and today to the realisation that there’s one last bit of paperwork to tie up properly (full colour scans don’t count, apparently!).

But, mission accomplished, past (no matter how good) is past – now onto the next adventures.

Die Rechnung des Beast [oder, €666]

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I am severely lacking in the mental energy to write right now. I could probably do with it, but the continuing issues with my German SIM led to me not making use of the prime writing time – shame because I really haven’t got the hang of Berlin Sundays. Even if I don’t get up early, there is still too much day. Definitely taking the guitar next time. Hope the bike is back in reliable order by then (continuing electrical gremlins – booked in to get sorted, but not for a few days yet).

Open Stage, trekking to the sticks in search of boilers, Karaoke, up to 3:30, hour’s sleep, back to England, work, back to Berlin, party, DIY shopping …. more karaoke… Blackland …

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Spent time tracking down a gas Kombitherme and spending €666 in Bauhaus (not a band or bar – but a huge German DIY shop). Followed by a first – a ritual that I have never actually participated in up til now, anywhere…. IKEA meatballs! Kirsty-approved portion size is all I can say. Decent chips too.

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Coming back to work is horrible. Bored. Stressed about boat. Want my spreadsheets to say “Go now” – they stubbornly do not, they say “Wait”. I don’t want to wait – but I also still have too many things to get rid of.

I thought music had lost its thrill, that I needed a rest for a while –  but Sunday worship at Blackland, and the times when I picked up my guitar at rehearsal – those, those still shine.

But is it Art?

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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.