The treadmill of modern life.

Feeling quite sad today. Getting Grace into university this year was rather rushed as she decided she wanted to go this year and not next so we’ve been busy getting things sorted. Left little time to prepare emotionally, although I’m not sure you can actually do this except to have it in your emotional being for some time that an emotional event is going to happen. Anyway, it wasn’t until we were back home from taking Grace to Bath and I was cooking lunch that it hit me that I wouldn’t be cooking for Grace again (I know this isn’t totally true as she’ll be home for holidays and maybe home when she can’t afford to exist alone in our extortionate rentier country). But I won’t be cooking for her again as my child living together in our home. I cried and tears are welling up again, there is a big Grace shaped hole in our house. I never imagined it would be like this.

Still, we were pleasantly distracted on Saturday night as we had a barbecue atop some scaffolding at roof level of a friend’s house. The previous Saturday at a wedding do when talking to these friends I said that we too often talk about how ‘we must get together’ and the like and then do nothing about it and offered to cook them an interesting chicken dish I’d read about that day. They immediately suggested eating on their scaffolding before it came down soon, so there we were eating on the scaffolding; John sat tossing his sausages and the rest of us drinking more circumspectly than usual. It was fun. We then adjourned to the garden so that John could indulge his pyromania further with a large fire. I sat in the same spot all the time which was downwind of the fire hence I was often engulfed in smoke. During times of smoke engulfment I knew that sooner or later the smoke would blow elsewhere and I could breathe smokeless air which would smell, taste and feel all the sweeter. My brain really is chemo-addled.

Next check-up tomorrow.

Every now and then I read the Saturday review of the Grauniad in the hope of getting my bias confirmed and am often disappointed. Not this week as 3 books soar up my must read list: Springsteen’s autobiography, Robert Harris’ latest on papal corruption and Mark Grief’ with the brilliantly titled (well to my fevered little brain) ‘Against Everything’. It’s Grief’s writing that I want to read first as he appears to reflect my thinking and distils my thoughts: “In Against Everything, n+1 founding editor Mark Greif asks us to rethink the ordinary, take our own lives seriously and explore how we might live an honest life in these dishonest times. In conversation with writer Laurie Penny, Greif will discuss everyday life under twenty-first century capitalism: why we put ourselves through the pains of exercise, what shopping in organic supermarkets does for our sense of self-worth, what the political identity of the hipster might be, and what happens to us when we listen to too much Radiohead.” In the book’s preface Greif writes: ““I taught myself to overturn, undo, deflate, rearrange, unthink and rethink.” Good stuff eh? In his essay “How to live in the age of plenty” he describes going to the gym where people do exercises that mimic what people used to do in their working lives and ‘naturally’ kept them fit, so fit that they died early from physical exhaustion. He describes how he goes to the gym and stands “in the usual stance of mutual disregard” pretending not to notice what’s happening around him. But then he breaks convention and looks at all those around him and experiencing a Blake-like vision ends up with the mantra “You are condemned. You are condemned”and gets off his treadmill. I’ve tried using gyms a few times over my life and each time experienced similar feelings, I certainly looked around at others and noticed how no-one else looked around and wondered why people were doing this stuff.

Kate and I went for a long bike ride yesterday, the weather was pleasant, our countryside is beautiful and we picked some blackberries for today I am going to make some artisanal apple and blackberry shortbread.


Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.


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