Happiness

It’s the greatest thing that we possess, you know? But what does it look like and feel like? Well here goes.

For my screen saver at the moment I’m using all the photographs of Granby that Nick Hedges took for Shelter around 1969. Because they’re some of the best photographs I’ve ever seen and because day in day out, at quiet moments, they remind me of how bad life can get and also how good. Like the day the people of Jermyn Street got Ken Dodd to come and visit.

A perfect picture of happiness from a long ago Granby to get us going then.

Now if you’ve been around this blog for a while you’ll know that I have a tendency to be depressed from time to time. Continue reading “Happiness”

For The Fun Of It?

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the word ‘fun.’ Although my general aim in life has always been to make the world a better, fairer and kinder place if I could, the talking up of ‘fun’ that often goes on amongst people with apparently similar aims has often looked like no fun at all.

The forced joining in at social events, for example, has always mildly terrified me and sent me looking for the nearest place to hide. Start up fancy dressing, the conga or that game where lines of adults pass balloons along between them without them touching the floor and I’m gone. Hiding in the kitchen or out the door and on my way home. “It’s just a bit of fun” I get told by people who are obviously a different sort of human from me.

I’m not and never have been one of life’s joiners in.

Then related to the party games fun is its dread corporate relation ‘the away day.’ Continue reading “For The Fun Of It?”

A Weekend in Early December

I’ve loved using this space I have to write more deeply these past few months. To change the balance between words and pictures on here and have more to say. I’ve particularly had more to say during this time for the reasons many of us will have more to say during times in our lives when we are ill or things generally are not going so well. From late July onwards things did not go well for me and I found myself, to my own relief and slight surprise, trying to write my way through my own doubts, illness, depression and unhappiness. It’s turned out I had a lot to say.

Now, come this weekend in early December, things are much better. Through the love and help of friends, the passing of time and perhaps the writing, my life is in a better place. So I’ve decided to write from this better place. For myself as much as for you who might read this. So I will remember, the next time depression darkens my door, that happiness, sometime soon, can always be a tangible possibility. Continue reading “A Weekend in Early December”

A True Story: Having the time of your life?

On top of a hill in Yorkshire. Some time in the late 1990s.

Recently on here I’ve been writing about being self-employed and the kinds of work I do. About how much I like variety in the work I take on and the stress it caused me recently when I found myself doing too much of one thing.

So when I read this article by Owen Jones in The Guardian, suggesting that a four day working week could be good for our economy, our society and our health, I remembered.

I remembered that ever since I began leaving my day job in the mid-1990s and becoming self-employed one of my objectives in doing so has been to work less. Not that I don’t enjoy the work I do. I do, and one of the big things I’ve always gone on about is finding and doing the work you love. And I have, mostly. But a core part of living the life I’ve had over this last 22 years has been to have more time than I used to have for me.

To do what? Well, we’ll get on to that. Continue reading “A True Story: Having the time of your life?”

Not waving but drowning

“I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.”
 ✹
So World Mental Health Day 2017 turns up and I nearly miss it altogether. Except I sit down at Twitter mid-evening and find something my friend Liam has written specially for the day about his own mental health, which is deeply felt and enlightening and well done Liam. And he thanks someone else who encouraged him to write. And I think why didn’t I write something too, maybe it would have helped someone else the way what Liam wrote is helping me?
Then I think, well it’s all of our mental health days every day, so why don’t I start writing something that I can finish in the morning? About my own lifetime of ups and deep downs. Some downs feeling as ‘not waving but drowning’ as Stevie Smith’s poem up there at the top.
So I’ll do that.
I’ll write that in the morning. Thank you for the courage to get started Liam.
Right then, here is the morning.
And if I’ve been, perhaps, ‘too far out all my life’ maybe I’ll need to write about all of my life, maybe. But I want to start with recently, because that’s the bit I remember the best.

Continue reading “Not waving but drowning”

Alone in Silence

Sarah has gone away, sea kayaking this time, and I’m alone again. Not lonely though. I find I rarely get lonely. Which is just as well as I find myself alone a lot.

Usually I’m alone here in this peaceful house. This house where I’ve lived for twenty six years, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. A typical Liverpool three bedroomed terraced house that I’m appreciating so much while there’s only me here to keep it company. Bay windows top and bottom at the front, no carpets, sparsely furnished, gently coloured and a small yard at the back leading on to the entry, alleygated in recent years.

Sarah moved into the house a couple of years after me, so I never think of it as mine and have few memories left now of the brief time I lived here on my own. Though I do have the feeling that I was lonely here then but for the twice weekly stays of my young daughter Clare. Memories when Clare wasn’t here of cold evenings, with nothing much to do when my dishes were washed up after tea.

It’s been a good house though, and I’ve been happy here. Continue reading “Alone in Silence”

Through reading glasses

Long ago, it seems now, I was entranced by a Paul Simon song called ‘Proof.’ It’s 1990 and I listen to his ‘Rhythm of the Saints’ album over and over again on my brand new first CD player, particularly to hear this song about ageing:

“It’s true, the tools of love wear down
Time passes
A mind wanders
It seems mindless, but it does
Sometimes I see your face
As if through reading glasses
And your smile, it seems softer than it was”

I’m in the middle of being thirty something at the time so this song, curiously beguiling as it is, feels like a message from a distant country which I can’t yet imagine visiting.

Nowadays I see everything I read and write through reading glasses.My previous blog post on here was a reflection on living as if I have a year left to go. Hoping I have many more but, at 63, knowing it would be a misguided conceit to carry on calling myself middle aged. In that post I wrote that all posts from now on would have to pass the test of ‘Would I bother writing this if I thought I had  year to live?’ Since then I’ve wondered ‘Well what exactly am I going to write about?’

I know there’s going to be a lot more Liverpool than there’s been on here lately. Not because it’s necessarily any more special than where you live but because it’s my home,  where I’ve chosen to live the whole of my life. There’ll also be more about people I know or meet who are doing good things that I want more people to know about, because I like helping out people I judge to be making their corner of the world into a kinder place.

Beyond these, well what? Continue reading “Through reading glasses”

Good Day Sunshine

DSC05078

“I need to laugh and when the sun is out
I’ve got something I can laugh about”

My last post on here was no laughing matter. ‘Shadow Days’ was written at the beginning of what turned out to be the best part of a week of fairly deep depression. A depression that has now lifted and that I was much helped out of by the many comments and good wishes from readers of this blog. So thank you all so much. And to several very close friends too.

So after doing some things I needed to do to deal with the depression I decided I’d take this Friday completely off work. Early on Twitter was telling me it’s 50 years today since ‘Revolver’ came out. So I decided to go into town and celebrate this by getting a copy.

On a sunny blue day.
On a sunny blue day.
Down sunny Bold Street.
Down sunny Bold Street.

Feeling a lightnesss in my step and my heart that’s been missing lately. Continue reading “Good Day Sunshine”

Shadow Days

00602547508119-cover-zoomI haven’t planned this out, as if, so I’ll write it as I feel it.

Some days are shadow days. For no immediately obvious reason, they just are. And this is one of them for me. As a fairly regular writer of blog posts I obviously and mostly write about things that interest me and therefore might interest you. This is no different. None of us, I suspect, are happy all the time.

It’s not that I’ve been unhappy in a dramatic way today. Continue reading “Shadow Days”