Lost, alone, scared… or just in transit

From the outside, life for me looks very typical… work, children, romance, friends, family etc. But each piece occupies its own space… its own room. Where my life may differ from some is in the scarcity of common connections to these rooms. Not a shared lobby or a corridor in sight… at least that’s how it feels for me at the moment. This is not by design… just how it is. Pulling these different elements of my existence closer together feels increasingly essential… I have a fear that these places can’t all coexist in isolation and at some point they need to be more interconnected in order to make something fuller and more rewarding.

...a door to a disconnected life

…a door to a disconnected life

One outcome of my disjointed life is the large chunks of time that I spend alone… more so than at any other time in my life.  A lot of my alone time is spent travelling between my disconnected rooms or when I’m resting between journeys at my little rented house.

Anyone who spends time alone knows that periods of “self-examination” are mandatory. Reflecting on what life has dished up so far and dreaming & planning the future. In my experience self- examination is rarely just about reminiscing and planning. Time alone can weigh heavy and pose difficult questions which often lead to self criticism which can be a harsh experience.  If you take a peek into my car on one of my journeys you can observe man being alone.  And there’s every chance that you’ll see me musing my future but you are just as likely to witness me delivering  a good talking to myself…  after all I’m way beyond the midway point of my life and I’m not sure that my life should be so fragmented… and why so much time alone.

For me these moments of self-deconstruction are largely fleeting. They often leave me with a sense of what true loneliness maybe feels like… but for most of us they are just moments, if we raise our heads we can see the doors to our interconnected rooms and the bigger picture.

For some, maybe many, the loneliness feels more permanent. Maybe they live in a room that is empty with no doors… not even an exit… no way out; or maybe they’ve arrived at what they thought was their ideal place but have accumulated so much baggage on their journey that they feel totally exhausted and now feel trapped by the weight of the things around them; or maybe they are being held hostage by people that were once travelling companions but have become their jailers; or maybe they’ve been in their room for too long and they’ve become too scared to open an unexplored door; or maybe the door is locked and they’ve lost the key; or maybe they’re looking at the doors waiting for someone to come in and rescue them; or maybe they’ve been abandoned and left frozen staring out of an open door.

Whilst I long for a life with connected rooms where my life flows effortlessly between them, I am grateful for the rooms I have… they provide great variety, challenges and opportunities. My fear remains however, unless I can pull them together they may become further detached and pull me apart in the process.

Ironically as soon as my vision of a fully connected existence enters my head I get thoughts and concerns about how I preserve my alone time which I now consider a friend… albeit a “know-all” with a big mouth… maybe I need another door… a door to a shed maybe.

...my resting place

…my resting place

Cuadrilla Vs Swampy… WTF

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from Cuadrilla that fire breathing mythical creature of the 1960/70’s B movie fame but like everything else from our past he seems to have been revived. I was never exactly sure whether he was a force for good or was a baddie. But this time around he appears to have been resurrected on behalf of the poor consumer struggling to pay the gas bill… excellent.

cuadrilla energy exploration

For the past few years we’ve had to rely on organisations like OFGEM – a toothless litter critter created by the government – to champion our cause for lower energy bills, but not anymore, we now have our very own fire breathing 100ft energy creating monster from the B movies… Cuadrilla. In the 70’s I seem to remember Cuadrilla obtained his power from biting on electricity power lines… oh, that could be a showstopper…  might add to our problems. But we needn’t worry, just like other 70’s revivals he’s been improved and no longer feeds on the power grid… his new superfood is a fast growing share price and government subsidies. So I guess that makes him green too. And like all superhero fire breathing monsters he has a special weapon the Frack… WTF.

It appears however that the Frack or Fracking is a little controversial… but hey, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get a subtle answer to our energy crisis from a creature with a name like Cuadrilla.

So as Cuadrilla trawls across our green and pleasant land should we care that the ground shakes a little and there’s the occasional accidental blaze caused by his fire breathing shrill. Personally I’m a little weary but maybe it might be worth it for the low cost gas that he promises.

But like all superheroes Cuadrilla has a nemesis… Swampy… this little fella claims to be one of us and fights for the good of mankind. But can we trust him? After all it turns out that Swampy is the bastard child of Dr Middleclass and Miss Nimby. His image is not helped by a group of grubby looking disciples that have the same hippie based outlook probably born out of a background of wealth and privilege. I doubt that any of them have ever had to worry about the cost of gas and keeping warm during a cold winter.

Swampy gets his power by praying on our fears and conscious whilst reassuring us that he knows best… his special weapon is the promise of Armageddon if he doesn’t get his way. Sounds like a cult religion to me.

So where should my loyalty and support sit. Personally I’m not a Swampy fan, I like my heroes to be strong, reassuring and something to aspire to… for me Swampy is a weaselly character who has a poisonous message of negativity and doom. The world today has been shaped by exploration and pushing boundaries. What would the world look like if our decisions were based on the fear of the unknown and doing nothing because we’re too scared?  I like that Swampy prods my conscious and raises questions – but is that really his motive. To me it seems that he and his disciples crave the power to decide what’s best for others without a clue of what others have to do to get by… including paying the gas bill.

So that leaves me with Cuadrilla the people’s fire breathing cheap energy giving dinosaur. I’m not totally comfortable with a hero that seems to rely on brute force and fire. Maybe he just needs a makeover …a softer image and a new name, how about Barney the Fracking Dinosaur. Ahh…WTF

So you like it thick and slow…

Thick and slow is never a good a thing when I’m in traffic on the M25. And thick and slow is rarely something to be applauded. But thinner and faster is not always better as pointed out by Frijj who recently reminded me, on a trip around the M25, that not everything can be improved by an increase in speed and a reduction in size.

and available in many flavours

and available in many flavours

This got me thinking… as a guy I’m occasionally reminded by the fairer sex that some things indeed are better thick and delivered slowly… but I’d never quite made the connection to milkshake. So now that I have been enlightened I have a questions for you girls… do we apply the Frijj milkshake topically as part of a sensual massage or is it best served in a glass as a post climatic refreshment?

Crossing an ocean

FRINTON-ON-SEA, Essex – 19th August 2012 (click to enlarge)

That’s a great quote and it’s one I try to remind myself of when I have a decision to take or, more frequently for me these days, when things take an unexpected turn.

And if you’re thinking about crossing an ocean, remember that as you get older your past has a habit of turning around and looking back at you…  so be sure to leave nothing important behind.

Connecting a past with a future

A departure from the wit. I recently took this picture from a bridge on the A12 close to where I live – no I wasn’t about to jump. I pass under this bridge everyday and as the road begins to rise you get this horizon.

 click picture to enlarge>>>

The A12 really is an artery for me, I can look in either direction and conjure up the many beginnings and endings from the past 15 years – that’s how long it’s been my neighbour. Looking backwards  it’s become an anchor to great memories and it’s always my starting point for new journeys so will remain an inspiration for my future.

Frilly knickers at the Autotoll

I’ve been commuting on the M25 for over 6 years and just like in life I’ve grown accustom to being told what I can and can’t do and recently a new instruction has appeared at the Dartford Crossing toll booth… is this sign for real. Exactly what is the speed limit through the toll booth?

My Health & Safety advisor might be doing cartwheels wondering how I managed to take the picture – I say cartwheels but I’d expect that would require a full risk assessment – so probably a forward roll. But worry not my health and safety guardians my car was stationary as it usually is at this part of my journey. I think the fastest speed I’ve managed through the toll is about 5 miles per hour and that can only be achieved by timing my approach correctly and a perfect presentation of my DartTag to the little camera attached to the booth – such a precise hand movement requires years of practice, over 2000 trips in my case… living the dream!!!

Crawling up to the toll reminded me of one of the worst experiences of my life… so what happens when you arrive at the toll with no credit or no exact change. That’s happened to me just the once, but I’ve been behind a few of the unlucky to be in this position. A warning to those to whom it has never happened – never ever and i mean ever put yourself in this position. In my case the situation began with the realisation that for some inexplicable reason I had taken my Dart-Tag out of the car the night before. I had no change or any cash and i was about 6th from the front of the Autotoll with no possibility of choreographing a move across to a manned toll booth. Realising my plight i began to feel panic beginning to spread through my entire body.

As I made my final approach panic turned into fear then to shame. The same shameful feeling you experienced when your dad walked into your bedroom and caught you pleasuring yourself whilst wearing a pair of your big sisters frillys. “Your tea’s ready son… I’ll get your mum to keep yours warm in the oven”. I’m speaking metaphorically of course. Anyway, you all know that feeling and for some of you it was probably much worse – one of those things that is never spoken about but never forgotten… feel free to tell us about your own experience.

Having no way to pay the toll is much worse however, because you have a bigger less forgiving audience, You can feel the hate and disgust coming from the queue that is beginning to form behind you… and you can feel the word tosser being burned on to the back of your head. So what next… nothing you just sit there waiting to be rescued by a Crossing Officer as your fellow road warriors’ rage turns into pure hate as they begin wishing for your premature death. Maybe it would be better if i got out of the car – never get out of the car – yes i felt like the tosser I had been branded whilst sitting in the car but once outside as i looked back at the queue i was now new feeling like some kind of kiddy fiddler with the crowd baying for blood and some taking potshots at me with their car horns.

At last i could see my knight in high vis armour walking towards my stranded vehicle … walking very slowly. God he looked smug… this is his reward, his moment, his bankers bonus that made up for what i guess is a pittance of a salary… though I’m guessing he got other perks, free crossings between Kent and Essex… nice. As he approached he looked into my vehicle… my BMW felt more like one of those police vans carrying the guilty to court for sentencing… i looked over at my McDonalds takeaway bag and wondered whether i could get it over my head in order to complete the pathetic picture. The Crossing Officer – is that really his job title – then looked at the baying crowd and gave them the ‘yes he’s wearing his big sisters frillies’ look.

After that it was got easier. The officer didn’t prolong my agony, he knew I had suffered and knew that if there was a next time I’d probably stop at the top of the bridge and throw myself off, his job was done. He gave me my ticket which required me to hand in the next time I crossed and pay the fee plus an extra quid.

The barrier went up and i was free. I accelerated hard; the last thing i wanted was to see any of the drivers who I’d held up. I was racing away… was that a flash as i passed another temporary sign reminding me that the traffic cameras are now working.