Tag Archives: #everydayinspiration

The tracks of my years

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I thought I’d try to compile a playlist of songs that represent me, or that speak to me on some level, so here goes.  They’re in no particular order.

  1. Gone Cold by Clutch. Probably the first “new” band I’ve heard in a long time, though I’ve since found out that they’ve been going since the early 90s. I listen to podcasts a lot when I’m driving, and one work related podcast features this song as the intro and outro music. It has a lovely, laid back feel to it, with vocals which drawl gently through the opening lines, but which reveal more of an edge when singing the lines around the song title.  I think I am also pretty laid back most of the time, but can be steely as and when necessary.
  2. Doesn’t Make it All Right by The Specials. When you’re growing up in a pretty much exclusively white rural town in the Scottish lowlands, a song which is very much anti-racist sends a strong message,  This song combines one of my favoured music genres (ska) with a conviction that I felt strongly at the time and still do. Oh, and my favourite band, SLF, do an awesome version of it.
  3. Boogie Chillun by John Lee Hooker. Cut down, raw blues with a wonderful hook, this song is just brilliant. the lyrics, about a child’s desire to break free and get lost in their music at times exactly how I feel.  I go through peaks and troughs, and at their height I just want to be enveloped in listening to and playing great music.
  4. Born On The Bayou by Creedence Clearwater Revival. OK, I’m not entirely sure what a bayou is, and I’ve no idea what shoogling is (it’s one of the words in the lyrics), but this song has a similar sort of feel to me as number 1 above does.  It’s quite chilled, but at the same time full of a sort of restless energy which breaks out from time to time.
  5. Panic Song by Green Day. This song is not long, and it’s not complex: but the intro is nothing more than a build up of energy which eventually explodes into action. In a lot of respects, my anger is like that: it takes a long long time to build, then (and only very rarely) does it get released.
  6. Soul Man by Sam and Dave This mostly made the cut because a) the Blues Brothers did it, b) it’s a fab time and c) they say “play it Steve” (to Steve Cropper) and I am a Steve!
  7. Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet. Again, Steve gets a mention, this time in the intro, but I chose this because it was one of the first songs I remember by a band I used to really like. I think this and Teenage Rampage probably laid the path for me to follow in terms of melodic music with a strong drum line.
  8. White Noise by Stiff Little Fingers. As with The Specials number above, this is very much an anti-racist number, though oddly enough when it first came out radio stations refused to play it because it has a derogatory w-word in every chorus. If they’d checked the lyrics they’d have seen that it was protesting about discrimination for whatever reason, whether race, colour, creed or nationality. What a great message!
  9. In The Hall Of The Mountain King from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg. I’m half Norwegian, half Scottish, and this is written by a Norwegian composer whose parents were Scots and has our hero encountering giants in their home.
  10. Donald Where’s Yir Troosers by Andy Stewart. This is a none too serious look at what it’s like to be a Scot from the sticks, and particularly when they venture down into the big city of London.  I’m a Scot who made the move from a rural part of the country away to England and to a big down. Oh, and if you want an Elvis impression, there’s one on here too – uh huh!

This was harder than I had expected, but I think I got there in the end. I hope you like the list!

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Setting the scene

I spent a portion of my lunch break today sitting outside the office, just watching the world go by.

At the time, the sky was overcast with sunny spells.  There were some patches of blue amongst the clouds, which seemed to transform from grey to white and back in a random jumble.

The air was full of “fairies”, the heads of dandelions and thistles, floating on the wind.  They get everywhere, even invading the office when the door is opened, and as it was quite warm the windows were open too – and in they came.

I should start by saying that my office today was on a small business park, one of several single story buildings set between a little man made pond and a field full of solar panels, surrounded by thistles and other flowering plants.  The business park can only be reached by driving down a narrow, single track road with passing places, and there is no passing traffic.  The buildings are surrounded by block paved car parks, and on some days they are right under the glide path of planes coming in to the nearby airport: not today though.

The pond is a murky green colour, and there are lots of lily pads which are a waxy dark green gathered at the far end. Dark shapes of fish, at least a foot long, can be seen just below the surface, and every so often the dorsal fin, tail and part of the back of one or more pushes out from the water and into the air.  There are reeds around the fringes, and other tall, slim, once purple flowered plants abound too.  Many of the plants in the area have finished flowering and their heads are dying.  I’m not very good at identifying plants: I should learn about them really.

Surprisingly, there were very few birds, butterflies or insects to be seen.  However, I was delighted to see a red kite soaring over some of the other buildings.  There are a couple of farms nearby so I’m guessing that the raptor was looking for rats and other small animals which live in and around farms: preferably dead ones.  It’s lovely to see red kites up close: their colours and grace are impressive, and given that until about 30 years ago they were practically extinct in England it’s encouraging to see that their numbers are on the increase and they can be found all around the office now.

As mentioned, there is no passing traffic, and as our offices are at the end of the business park, no-one other than my colleagues park there.  No-one arrived, and no-one left, as I sat and relaxed, just watching the world go by.  A very peaceful interlude in a busy day.

Coffee anyone?

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If we were having coffee right now, I’d be pretty disappointed with myself.  You see, I’ve given up caffeine for August, so I’d have relented after less than a fortnight. I had pretty bad headaches last week, as the caffeine left my system, but other than that it’s been reasonably easy – easier than I expected to be honest!  I gave up alcohol for January, which was easy because I’m not addicted to it: I suspect I am / was slightly addicted to caffeine.

If we were having coffee right now, it would be touch and go whether I’d sleep tonight. It’s nearly bed time, and I know that a coffee just before bed doesn’t help one relax.  So why do people often finish off their meal on a night out with an espresso?

If we were having coffee right now, I’d be the easiest person to make it for.  Coffee. Hot water. Stir. Done!

When not Writing I…

…spend a lot of my time writing!

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My work means that I spend a lot of time on a keyboard, whether it’s in answering emails, writing documentation, reviewing someone else’s documents or other things like that.  I’m not a full time Writer, and what I do on this blog is entirely for my pleasure. I find it a way of managing my thoughts, of making order out of the myriad of things going on in my head, and in some cases even making sense of the world around me.  I don’t believe I’ll ever be a published author (because I don’t think I’ll ever try), and I’m never sure how many people actually read my blog anyway.

So, when I’m not writing for work, or Writing for pleasure, how do I fill the time and why?  Family takes up a lot of time, and I love spending my days and nights with them.  We like to go on day trips, road trips, afternoons out, to all sorts of places and for a number of different activities.  Dee and I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in bookshops, and are continually seeking out interesting volumes on a wide range of topics, though rarely fiction.  That’s because one of our other favourite pastimes is reading: we’ve always got several books on the go at once.

Other than those, my main distraction is generally music, whether listening to it or playing bass. That and walking I find helps clear my mind, to simply be, and they help me to return to every day life refreshed and full of new ideas.

If I had extra time, would I write more?  I don’t think so.  I enjoy the time I spend writing my blog articles, and I enjoy reading other people’s blogs, but I think if I had more time I’d find other ways of spending it.  My diverse ideas are finite and I wouldn’t want to get to the end of them too soon!  I’d like to spend that extra time becoming more adept at mindful meditation, and practicing mindfulness.  I’d like to be more thoughtful – or at least, less thoughtless. I’d probably try to complete a Tai Chi course we’ve been signed up for for ages, and I’d like to try yoga, though as a tall 50 year old slightly overweight bloke with very little flexibility, I think it would take me years even to be able to touch my toes without bending my knees!

You’re (g)out of order!

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Dear Gout,

I’m sorry that you had to leave, as it was very kind of you to come and visit for all those years.  Popping up at unexpected times and preventing me from sleeping or walking was such a wonderful experience that I hardly know where to start.  The uncertainty and seemingly random times when you’d visit added a little excitement and frisson to every day. Ensuring that I spent money every month, on medication I took daily, was a particularly neat touch.

Who knew that you and alcohol were such good friends? Imagine my surprise when I found that after I stopped alcohol from coming round for more than one or two beers a week, that you decided you’d overstayed your welcome and slowly, silently left.  Even better, you took the need for medication with you, and my toes have been pain free for months.

I do hope you won’t take this the wrong way Gout, but I don’t want us to be friends, and I don’t want us to see each other ever again.  I have a new life, with new friends like fresh fruit and food made from scratch, and so it’s over between us.

Best Regards

Big Erik

It’s taken a while to write this…

That’s partly because procrastination is one of my middle names!  Given a finite period of time to complete a task, I will almost always wait until the last minute – sometimes even later – before starting it.  I thereby put a lot of pressure on myself, which you would think I would learn from and would plan things better.

Years ago, during an appraisal at work, my manager complimented me on my crisis management skills when dealing with an emergency.  I stayed calm and collected, and was able to direct effort in a measured and considered way.  In the same appraisal, he also noted that I seemed to leave everything to the last minute, but he didn’t like my reason for doing so – to demonstrate and practice my crisis management skills!  I thought that was a very creative response, so maybe procrastination is essential to creativity.

However, at work now I find that I’m planning things much better, and am actually planning time when I can be creative.  That seems to be working quite well too, so perhaps procrastination doesn’t have any bearing on my creativity,

Saying all of that, I don’t think I’m a particularly creative person, when compared to all the people I know who do craft work, who are musicians or artists.  In answer to the tweet above – I just don’t know what I believe about it.