To do list…

In between life and death, what is to be done?

black and white photo of brazilian beach

Anyway, I have been thinking about what I want to ‘do before I die’.  And on reflection I have not done too badly so far.

All I can really think of that I would really like to do before I die is:
1) See a blue whale in the wild.
but I will put others here upon reflection.
2) Learn to play Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring in it’s entirety on the guitar – I am about a third of the way there currently.
3) Complete, submit and have a novel published, to some (even small) acclaim.
4) Love and be loved.

Without the hot air

If you get annoyed by vague ‘area the size of Wales’ statistics then ‘Without hot air’ is well worth a read.  Professor David Mackay has done the calculations and provides detailed models for how Britain could become sustainable in terms of energy production and consumption.

There is lots of useful information in the book, all of it with a practical and pragmatic perspective.

Don’t kid yourself that you can stop at switching your phone charger off and think you are doing your bit for the environment, for instance:

“All the energy saved in switching off your charger for one day
is used up in one second of car-driving.

The energy saved in switching off the charger for one year is
equal to the energy in a single hot bath.”

Read it online here



It is easy to lose hope, it is easy to tire of treading water in the midst of a seemingly endless sea, easy to let go of hoping for a light from a ship to bring sanctuary. It is easy to give up and surrender to the deep, dark drowning depths.

I am writing this from Tavistock square in London’s Bloomsbury. For many years it was one of my favourite places in the world, to come and read and to write and to think or lie on the spring grass.

It has a statue of Ghandi at its centre, and many memorials, including a tree to the victims of Hiroshima and a stone memorial to conscientious objectors everywhere.

And I have only just realized I have not come here for nearly four years.

Because four years ago I tried to get here to escape the crowded madness of King’s Cross station, where I was trapped amongst the frightened and the dead, shortly after the July seventh bombs had gone off. I tried to get here via the back streets and I was driven back by the bus bomb exploding in the street that is behind the bench where I now sit.

There are tears at the corners of my eyes, I am not sorrowful. Sometimes relief and realization can elicit tears too. And the beautiful, brave ideas that are embodied in the monuments here.

I am happy to be back here.

Yes, it is easy to let the dark sea swallow you, those terrorists did just that, they gave themselves to hate and they murdered innocents.

It is harder and braver to seek peace, to be kind. I know this is a simplification, but there is truth in it.


At the end of a busy Friday at work I took a walk across the Heath, as the first slight bruising of evening came to the sky.

I went to the place I go to meditate and shut my eyes, birdsong trilled and the soft air played around me. Stillness and thought within and without.

When I walked on, the sky was a thoughtful blue, and the trees were set against it like fine ink sketches.

I watched a small flock of birds fleet over my head, stark against the sky.

And I was taken by the simple beauty of what I was witnessing. Behind me, over the hill, a cotton candy wisp of pink behind a cluster of trees.

So I walked on, and down towards the silver ponds. Passing by I saw a woman, obviously nauseous, holding onto the fence. I turned back and I asked her if she was okay.

She was a little embarrassed, but glad of the distraction, glad of the support.

And then we recognized each other.


I knew her years ago, from school and mutual friends. An intelligent and pleasant lady.

It was ‘morning’ sickness, she was nine weeks pregnant, unable to tell anyone, or many people, at any rate.

So I distracted and bolstered her, we walked to her car she thanked me and I said goodbye.

It was a nice, fortuitous moment.

Cupid, draw back…

I planned to go for a quiet drink but then a last minute spare ticket meant that I ended up attending the Last Tuesday Society Valentine’s Ball. It was quite extraordinary and good fun, I drank gin and threw soft toys at a maniac.

The best thing was an area with scantily clad ladies posing for you to draw them, so I sat, and wielding a red felt tip (honestly, get your mind out of the gutter), sketched away.

Well, one of the ladies was quite taken with my efforts and took a sketch of mine to hang in her room.  She rewarded me by painting my lips bright red with a brush on lipstick. It was that sort of evening. Fun.

The eyes have it

We found a fisheye lens in a vacated desk and so I tried to sync it with my iPhone’s own beady little eye. The results were poor, but they looked like this.

Eyes evolved over the milennia from light sensitive cells, eyes that resemble the stages our own eyes have passed through exist throughout the animal kingdom still. One of the most curious eyes, perhaps, was that of the trilobite, the long extinct creature of Cretaceous (I think) seas. It had calcite rods for eyes.

Creationists often refer to the eye as proof of an intelligent designer, yet optical illusions exist in abundance that demonstrate that our eyes are far from perfect. Not to mention the blind spot, and of course people being born visually impaired.

Nonetheless eyes are amazing objects, balls of liquid that focus and transmit light, I am glad of mine.

Snowy night in Soho

It was Chinese new year, a Sunday. Red lanterns hung like luscious ripe fruit above the bustling streets of Chinatown. Crowds of people gathered around writhing dragons and the clashing cymbals that were passing from business to business,  to usher in the good fortune of the new year.

An icy wind flitted about the swarms of people, the night air was a chill electric blue.

I found warmth in the basement of a Soho eatery. And took in the soothing comfort of wine and food. The ice of outside was forgotten to the cosy drowse of contentment.

Later, climbing the stairs to leave, I came to see that the world had cocooned itself away, a pupae in virginal white, snow was falling densely in the london air.

Outside, Soho was empty and silent, an enchanted, slumbering world. The snow absorbing all sound. Footsteps crunched into the soft land, only to be forgotten by the new drifts.

The world seems innocent in the snow, a bride in her wedding dress. We are in wonder at her fragile beauty.

And, if a pupae, then spring is the butterfly that emerges from the silken shroud.

Chapter one

Simplify. Then make complicated. then simplify once more.

This is a paraphrase of a Brian Eno ‘tweet’ (Twitter post) I read today.

He is right, or at least, I think so because it is concordant with where I am currently.