It’s the small events that colour in the large spaces between the more obviously significant moments in our lives.Sights and sounds absorbed in passing can leave a lasting impression of the immediate world around us.
This week I have been mostly smelling…aircraft fuel. This was something more common in my childhood but its been hanging in the air a lot over the past seven days and in that odd way that we get to associate good feelings with the smell of hot tarmac, bonfires, cut grass or a certain scent that you associate with a lost loved one, I find the smell of aviation fuel in the air somehow evokes pleasant feelings.
Where I live there is a running cat and mouse game with ‘gypsy’ travellers who occupy areas of local grassland for short periods before the due process of the law moves them on, only for them to return after a brief tour around the many other small pockets of greenery around town.
The council has started placing wooden fencing around many of the most popular areas which now sees the traveller pick ever small grass areas for occupation , now in pairs rather than in a larger group of six or more mobile homes. Just around the corner a communal area of grass with trees is now used by two families of travellers each owning a dog and a chicken (which live in their own chicken house) and a clothes line tied between the clumps of conifer trees for drying clothes. The sound of a portable generator permeates the suburban calm.Within days all that will be left will be various piles of discarded refuse where they once were. The council will dispose of this and if there is no money to fence this area off they will soon return. Nomads of the suburbs.
Strimming In Infinity
My parents live about two and a half miles away from us.It’s within walking distance and along the way this week I saw a young woman strimming furiously around her over grown front lawn accompanied by the highly amplified sounds of Robbie Williams singing ‘Angels’. A curious assault on the senses.
Cassette Culture Nostalgia
Also close to my parents is a closed down petrol station boarded up and awaiting redevelopment.The white hoarding around the area seems to have become attractive to graffiti artists who seem less inclined to paint their gang names in multi coloured spray paints but to apply their own personal branding images promoting the url of their respective MySpace web page. One such personal advert features an elaborate audio compact cassette logo. A now defunct retro cassette image by someone surely so young that the real article must have played only a fleeting part of their young lives.
I smashed a glass today and it all happened in slow motion. Having deftly avoided an earlier incident I was then able to watch myself lightly brush a less than precious glass tumbler, be aware of it falling, think about it falling (“typical I’m about to break a glass”), reach out to grab it in slow motion, half catch the glass only to see it deftly give me the slip by flipping out of my lame grip, slipstreaming across the back of my hand before bouncing on the kitchen table surface and diving determinedly onto to the kitchen floor where it enacted a violent suicide, fracturing into many progressively smaller pieces about my bare feet.
Time then speeded up suddenly as I stood trapped by the sharp fragments of my own clumsiness and as soon as the world returned to real time I let out a loud vocal sound of self chastisement and frustration.
If I was to time the incident it would seem to have taken place over the space of several expanded seconds. For my partner upstairs all that was heard was ‘chink’ ‘bonk’ ‘ssssmash’ ‘ggrrrrrrr’ as a rapid event of just over a second and a half in time.For me it all happened on a different time scale.
Another short glass life ended prematurely today in a frenzy of unintended adventure.
Time is an intriguing illusion.
I had to drag myself into the outside world to buy provisions and make payments yesterday. I swathed myself in enough clothing layers to approximate a mobile 10 tog duvet on legs , donned my matching flame retardant gloves , wrapped my lower face in a scarf (I’ve come late to scarf wearing and it worries me) and stepped cautiously out the door in a similar fashion to astronaut Neil Armstrong leaving the safe confines of the lunar module to cautiously touch the surface of the moon and me with an almost identical fluidity of movement.
My mile long journey on foot took me past a world of iPod wearers of all ages including the mature, multiple tweenies and a young girl aged around five years old telling her mother’s friend that she’d got an iPod for Xmas (amongst a frankly stunning list of items). She was jumping up and down as she recited her Xmas list, as would I if I’d got anything like the consumer bundle she was reciting. Her Mothers friend was repeating each item back in an annoyingly patronising but bubbly way (I’d need chemical help to sound that enthusiastic).
I had begun to think I was the only person in a 2 mile radius who did not have an iPod.
I finally got to the post office and shops and two pavement teens turned their heads as I approached to reveal that both had a single iPod between them linked by a pair of white in-ear headphones each (I kid you not). A communal iPod no less.Their perfect mouths were open with their perfect eyes opened wide but signifying that neither was currently home though both instinctively were able to turn their heads ,tracking me in unison whilst their mouths stayed open.It was all a bit Village of The Damned.
Perhaps they had never seen a walking duvet before.
I’m not a great one for new year resolutions. I prefer to set goals at odd times of the year and maybe recommit or check my progress at this time when so many will set new resolutions that may fall by the wayside. I do like to reassess though what I think I’m doing and re check the things that I believe.
So I’ve been quite absorbed by various individual essays over at edge.org concerning the question: what have you changed your mind about and why? which makes a fascinating read and is still being added to.
Alan Alda states that he’s changed his mind about God twice, whilst Brian Eno has lost faith in the old notion of ideology politics and revolution and now sees political change occurring in very small evolutionary steps.
I was also interested in Esther Dyson’s change of mind over on-line privacy and Tim O’Reilly getting over his skepticism of social networking software and Douglas Rushkoff’s disappointment over the Internet.
Yesterday my partner and I had a friendly disagreement over the way I was carrying out a routine domestic chore. The way I was doing it was (understandably enough) not the way my partner would do it, which of course resulted in a retort from me along the lines of “If you want a job doing well then better do it yourself” which swiftly brought a hurried reply along the lines of “Oh no, I’m not doing it, you carry on”.
My partner then pulled herself up for nagging at me and announced it was all down to her own perfectionism to which I replied that she was correct except that really it should be called ‘lazy perfectionism’ because it didn’t involve the required hands on element necessary for complete control-freaking perfectionism (which was all said with tongue firmly in cheek and with the sly smile I wear when winding somebody up).
So as we explored the humour of the situation we decided that she was a lazy perfectionist and that I was a multi-tasking procrastinator (in that I can juggle an infinite number of tasks that can be put off until tomorrow).
I’m not sure that I’m quite locked onto planet reality at the moment. I sat here this morning looking out the window from our computer and pondering the wet and grey tinged half light of the day when I noticed a cake tin on top of our bins.I had left a cake tin outside. Why did I take a cake tin outside?
I seem to remember taking out some recycling items yesterday. Did I have a cake tin in my hand at the time? I stepped out into the morning air to retrieve the item and was greeted with the pungent aroma of aircraft kerosene. I stood and breathed in the chemical laden air which bizarrely transports me back to a very young time.
I grew up near to an airport and under a flight path and the smell of aircraft kerosene puts me back in a scene when I could only just walk. I’m toddling around my parents garden and can see all the detail around me which is all triggered by the smell of kerosene. The whole memory is totally immersive with 360 degree vision, stereo sound and the obligatory kerosene fragrance as the trigger.