To love.

Love is highly subjective, that’s a part of its beauty.

If you have one way of doing it, it doesn’t mean it’s everyone else’s.

So when you give it, think not of yourself, but of the other.

Think not how it’s given, but how it’s received.

thank you.

Without you, the world wouldn’t be what it is.

So thank you for making every day exist.

If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.
C.S. Lewis

Living with OCD.

OCD is different for everyone who has it. It generates obsessions. It also questions most things. Big and small. So much so that the French once called it ‘la folie de doute’, ‘the doubting disease’. It takes up time, either ruminating or thinking about such things as the meaning of life, or tedious things like when to do the washing, or how to construct an entire essay.

Every. Single. Sentence. 

(yep, it took me over two hours to write this).

And these obsessional thoughts intrude on everyday living. 

But they are often unrecognisable. 

It’s sneaky like that (for more info see here).

Here’s an example.

Scenario: after bumping into a friend whilst walking down the street. Let’s call her Sharon. Intrusive thoughts/current ruminations: needing to do the washing and the meaning of life. OCD loves that old chestnut.

To best demonstrate the thought patterns that occur, in the below situation I’ve divided up what goes on in my brain, from what comes out my mouth.

A conversation goes something like…

Sharon: Hello Alex.

Mouth: Oh, hi, how are you? Sorry, didn’t notice you.

Brian: stupid distracting thoughts.

Oh, that’s a colourful cardigan.

Mouth: I like your cardigan.

Brian: Concentrate! How am I?

Mouth: Yeah, I’m alright. How are you?

Brain: My green cardigan needs washing. 

I forgot to put it on the pile.

I could put it on with those green socks and…

But I need to buy soap powder first, that’s why I’m out.

Right, soap powder.

No, wait, Sharon.

Focus on Sharon!

…But I need to buy soap powder. 

No, Sharon.

What’s she saying?

Something about her dad visiting for the weekend?

Mouth: Oh that’s nice, what are you going to do?

Brain: I haven’t done anything today. 

Other than leaving the house to buy soap powder that I havent even done yet because Sharon…

Oh look, a bird.

Argh, shut up brain.

Sharon.

Mouth: How is your dad?

Brain: Dad, oh I need to ring dad.

Relationships matter. Family matters.

I wonder what he’s doing now?

I think he said he’s in a meeting all day.

Meeting. I hate meetings. 

Especially that one last year in Wales..

Wales, I miss Wales.

Particualry the little shop in Cardigan where I use to buy soap powder…

NO.

FOCUS.

But I did have a good time in Wales.

Maybe I should go back.

Argh CONCENTRATE.

Smile.

Sharon.

Right, something about how her and her dad are going to go to the opera tonight.

Mouth: Oh, what are you going to see?

Brain:  Ah, the opera.

Harriette works at the opera.

I wonder if she’s working tonight?

She likes working at the opera.

Maybe I should work at the opera?

NO, concentrate.

I care about Sharon. 

It’s not about me, its about her.

Sharon is important.

…But so is Harriette. 

Hariette sent me an email the other day.

I need to respond.

Perhaps I’ll ask her how she got her job.

Yes, I’ll do that.

Respond.

Now.

I wonder if there’s wifi here?

Where am I again?

Ah yes, there’s a street lamp, 

and that’s…Sharon.

Crap, Sharon!

Mouth: Hows work?

Brain: Ah Sharon,

Sharon is a fashion designer 

And she works in Oxfam at weekends.

That’s nice.

Maybe I should work in Oxfam?

Or become a fashion designer?

I should probably do some sort of volunteering.

Yeah, that’s what matters.

Helping others.

I could train as a fashion designer too?

Make clothes for.…

No, FOCUS!

—————-

AND SO ON.

It’s pretty freakin’ exhausting.

A surprise.

My blog is about to change its tune slightly.

Get ready.

For I’m about to wrestle with uncertainty.

And some big-ass stuff.

Like, big-ass,

real life, 

spanner-in-the-works,

angry-at-life, stuff.

But don’t worry,

I intend to not be a cheeseball about it

(I hate those kind of blog posts).

Just lots of anger.

And moderate reflection.

But mainly anger.

And bad grammar.

So, this time, not the beauty

(as it says up there to the right).

But the rubbish.

Naval-gazing?

Definitely. 

But right now, I don’t care.

And perhaps you won’t either.

So here goes.

-

Grief: a deconstruction

(I did warn you).

-

Grief.

An abstract noun, apparently.

More like cold hard concrete.

A feeling?

Many. 

A state of mind?

Perhaps.

Although, I’d challenge anyone who says that it can be altered.

A problem?

Sometimes.

A moment?

Never.

A lifetime?

Always.

They say ‘time heals’.

But it doesn’t.

Time creates distance.

Distance from a certain day, 

hour, 

minute, 

second, 

when everything folded in on itself.

And collapsed into an inescapable nightmare.

An incessant,

destructive,

confusing,

restless

nightmare.

Very present.

And very real.

Distance can distract,

fool

and often help.

But it does not mend.

‘They’- whoever ‘they’ are- are wrong.

Idiots.

It remains very present

and very real.

(whatever ‘it’ is).

Grief.

Love’s cruel concrete consequence

(try saying that when it surprises you).

Hopeless.

Unpredictable.

Versatile.

And, eventually, quite familiar.

Edwina’s got STYLE.

           image

To celebrate my new found residential location, I thought I’d write a little something about Edwina Ellis.

(besides, anyone with the name Edwina, definitely deserves a mention)

Edwina designed the new kickass masthead for the Times and is responsible for the Bridge series of four one pound coins, and for a new two pound coin (there it is above).

She’s also the fine lady who taught me wood engraving at uni and has a rather endearing Australian accent. 

As you can see, she has MAD engraving skills, a keen eye for detail and designs for purpose like a BOSS.

She’s also doing some great stuff for engraving as a whole; having recently developed printing apparatus using laser-cutting technology and has recently worked with Intaglio Printmaker to develop a range of engraving tools.

Check them out…

image

They’re really quite beautiful objects.

This particular type, with bowed sides, is called a spitstick.

Which is also a pretty great name.

Well hello there London.

                 image

So I’m now officially a LONDONER.

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s happened.

And is definitely a big fat change from rural Welsh life.

Looks like we’ve traded all the bountiful fields, crystal clean air, trusty welsh folk, abundant wildlife, tractors, the flowing river Teifi and a rather mellow pace for some questionable grass, general pollutants, DANGER, badman gangsters, one-legged pigeons, hubbub, the dirty river Thames, and a general feeling of over suspicion.

But, on the PLUS side, at least we now have a kickass shower, lots of pals nearby and Dennis the postman does seem very nice.

Oh, and I get start a new academic adventure in the museum of dreams.

I guess that’s a bit fat BONUS.

So, yeah, hello Hackney. 

I hope you will be kind to us.

I have a sneaky feeling you will.

And, to quote king Simba, “Danger? Ha! I walk on the wild side. I laugh in the face of danger.”

Nicely said my liege, nicely said indeed.

Tools are intrinsic to social relationships. An individual relates himself in action to his society through the use of tools that he actively masters, or by which he is passively acted upon.
Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality, 1973

Le Chemin du Fauvisme

"The eye of the artist has not seen things that are not there, but has seen more completely what is there already. Artists, like prophets, are not looking at a world no one else can see; they are looking upon what everyone else sees but seeing it differently. Where we see shades of grey, a great artist might see explosions of colour."

Gerrard Kelly
We need an economy that makes things again. And I’m not alone in thinking this. The generation that built the web is tiring of the immaterial and is turning back to objects: to 3D printing, to laser-cutting, to Arduinos. And maybe they can — as with the web — transform hobbies and eccentricities into industries.
Russell Davies