On 31st July 2010, I’d just arrived in Ethiopia. Everything I’d imagined happening during the rest of my life had vanished. I was unemployed, homeless, and didn’t really know who I was any more. But I was also alone, footloose, and free of responsibilities. There were many pieces falling through the air, but also a clear space for them to fall into. What a difference four years make. At times, it can feel that the settled demands of a steady life are closing me in, that I’m becoming stuck – or unstuck. But it pays to think back. It makes me remember there are always unseen options; that fear and Read full post >>
Last night, I went with my sister and her partner to see Martin Simpson at Cecil Sharp House. He was as brilliant as he always is. But this isn’t a post about Martin Simpson. This is a post about a black cab ride. I’d ridden up to Camden on my bike, along the canal as I usually do. When I picked up my bike to come home again, around eleven o’clock, I hadn’t gone far before realising I had a flat tyre. Immediately, I felt furious. First with the bike. Then with myself, for not bringing my tools, a pump and a spare tube, as I usually do. Then with Read full post >>
I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance about working in prisons. He said he thought it might be a good thing that there was something else for ‘crims’ to do inside, apart from ‘just shanking and bumming each other’. It struck me as an ineptly light-hearted comment, born more of privilege and ignorance than of malice, and I did my best to look past it, and talked vaguely about how I think there is human potential in dark places. At the time, I had neither the energy nor the clarity to confront him more vigorously, weary as it made me. “It is a dreadful indictment of our society and Read full post >>
It’s been a while, Internet. I haven’t talked to you for some time. I’m not sure I had all that much to say. Things have been interesting, but they’ve been draining, too. The sheer number of people and tasks I deal with at work leaves me pretty out of whack by the end of the day; if I have the evening at home, I kind of want to retreat. And if I go out and see a film or a friend or go to my Quaker meeting, there isn’t time or energy left to write by the end of the day. Lately, at home on my own, I’ve been playing Read full post >>
On the train this morning: lots of litter on the table opposite – newspapers and coffee cups and such. A woman sitting down at that table picks it all up and dumps it all down on my table, then looks offended by my surprised look. She says “what?” as if asking me to explain myself. So I say that there is probably a bin at the end of the carriage. She says there is never a bin on trains, and anyway, she didn’t leave the litter on the table. (I think: you did leave it on mine). I pick up the cups and paper and take them to the bin Read full post >>
All the posts on here recently have focused, in one way or the other, on my family. I mentioned in my last one that my grandmother would have been 100 on 7th October. Now my mum has written her own blog post about Bill Skinner’s life, which I’m just reposting as a companion piece for all those I wrote about my grandpa. I’ll return to non-family related posts when inspiration next strikes!