Ups and Downs

IMG_1569

Bouncy Castle – Sea-front, Filey

I mentioned my new friend Trevor.  I was just about to pay for parking at Flamborough Head when he hailed me from his lovely V-Dub and gave me an overnight ticket as he was about to leave.  We got chatting about all things campervanning and life and he told me he and his partner Karen were from Worksop.  He used to be a screw (can’t remember which prison) then took early retirement, went back on the plumbing tools for a while and finished up in catering.  I hope he wouldn’t mind me saying he looked like he’d eaten a few of the pies.

But he was a great character, talking a mile-a-minute, full of joie de vivre and passion for travel.  He showed me pics of some of the stealth-camping hot-spots.  “Sorry to keep you,” he kept saying, then kept me.  But after the shit day I’d had, his kindness, friendliness and wit were breaths of sea air.  I’d found solace in a kindred spirit and one I know I’ll keep in touch with.

Nevertheless I still woke up next morning feeling down, so had a long walk on Bempton Cliffs, watching gannets soaring up and dive-bombing down in their avian cod war, then drove up the coast in search of more friendly faces.

My real friend Gaz had put me in touch with an old Grammar School mate called Rachel and I’d seen that she and her husband Stuart had started following my blog.  He said they were up in Filey, running a seafront mini-fairground, so that’s where I headed, hoping my bearings both mechanical and cerebral were in order.  I parked up, walked down the Ravine and spotted the bright yellow bouncy castle, which I later learned is visible with the naked eye from Bempton (on a clear day, which this was).

Unsung and overlooked Filey has a beautiful coastline with grand Victorian villas and bungalows nestled into its cliffs; I’d been here before in happier times and was hoping for cheer this time around.  Even though I hadn’t seen her for 38 years I spotted and recognised Rachel immediately, approached her, and asked how much for a bounce.

“It’s you!” she proclaimed.  After exchanging hugs and how d’you dos, we chatted about old times and I recalled that her tribe were legends, having appeared on TVs Ask The Family with Robert Robinson.  Yes her family were world-famous at Nantwich & Acton Grammar School.  She asked if I were staying over and though I’d planned to get up to Whitby, the offer of dinner, wine, music and chat was too good to turn down.

After a pint at the Cobble Bar then a very long walk down the beach in the sun, I drove to Rachel and Stuart’s place, a lovely rural semi.  Getting reacquainted with Rach and meeting her husband was a pleasure, and their story of how they got together was the stuff of brilliant romance.  Frankly I won’t waste it on this blog, but to summarise, the two of them fell in love notionally before they’d even met, then realised it on a long haul flight.

As we shared stories of travel and life, filling in the 38 years since school, it transpired there were lots of connections; both Rach and Stuart knew my brother Tez and there were mutual friends in Big Steve, Wakey and many others.  To my shame it was clear that Rachel is much better at keeping in touch with old friends than I am.

Two other things struck me that night, a) though I’m not a doggy person, I made friends with their ten-year-old pooch called Poppy, who also took a shine to me, b) how I miss having a proper home and garden, and c) how lonely I’d been.  It was such a pleasure to spend time with a wonderful couple so deeply in love, and enjoy a delicious meal in the power-house which is their state-of-the-art kitchen… it even had something called an Amazon Dot called Alexa, who would play any music you told her to, gave a weather report, up-do-date news, and if you went away for a week no doubt she’d feed the fish and water the begonias.

But of course all good things come to an end and, seeing they were knackered after a hard (yet no doubt lucrative) day at work, I retired back to the Ottermobile which I’d “stealth-camped” in their ample garden.  It was a fabulous night, so welcome after a miserable couple of days, and I bedded down feeling up – people are so kind and just when you need them, there they are.  Just like Rachel and Stuart’s bouncy castle, I am up then I am down.  As I said to a barmaid in York the other day:

When I am up I am up

And when I am down I am down

And when I am only half-way up…  ah you get the picture.

Homeless – My Night with a Down-and-out

shambles

York – The Shambles by the Author!

I always knew there’d be a first time for someone to sleep the night with me in my van, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it’d be a bloke.

To give the backstory, just like many other towns and cities, York has a real homeless problem – in recent years it’s seen a rise of 40% of those officially considered to be in that category.  I don’t include myself – my Ottermobile is my home, not in the traditional sense, but it’s a roof over my head with certain amenities so enough for me to call it that.  But yes it’s only one small step away from the streets.

Which is where I met “Tony”.  Normally those you encounter in shop doorways lie in a shambles of bedclothes with a paper cup in front of them, and they’re mutteringly asking if you have any spare change.  But there was something noticeably different about Tony – well-spoken, smart but casual in jeans and anorak, clean-looking, he politely approached me and asked for help.  Though homeless and penniless, there was something in his eyes that made me warm to him.  I knew there was a story but I didn’t want it there and then so I invited him into a nearby cafe and bought him a tea and a bun.  Gratefully he put down his bags and found a table, where I described my project and my own proximity to homelessness.  Hearing this seemed to touch him all the more so I wondered if in return he’d tell me how he came to be here, joking that he didn’t get the comestibles for free.  He laughed and begun his tale, which here I summarise.

Originally from Blackpool, he left school with nothing to write home about and drifted through dead-end jobs and relationships, finishing up in a fairground burger van.  Eventually he managed to save up and get himself to Brussels, where he studied catering with dreams of becoming a restaurateur.  Suddenly he heard from his brother that his parents and Auntie had been killed in a car crash.  Returning home to see to the funeral, he met a guy who’d become his lover.  They settled in Blackpool where he got a job as a waiter while setting up a bistro with his brother, using their small inheritance.

The hikes in rent hit him hard and he eventually lost the business, and when his boyfriend deserted him and he was duped by his brother, he went into financial and mental decline.  Since then he’s drifted around our cities to find work.

It was a story far from unique I supposed, and heartbreaking, but as with Aline (see Land of a Thousand Hills) there was the air of “that’s how it goes” pragmatism – Tony doesn’t feel sorry for himself, though he is at times baffled as to how this happened, how he got here, how rapid was the journey.

But don’t suppose either of us were down in the dumps; Tony was a very funny young man of 30, good-looking, bright, friendly and hopeful; all he wanted, he said, was to get a full-time job, save up and get back to Belgium.

Impressed with his positivity and warmed by his wit, I asked how this is possible when sleeping rough – isn’t it dangerous?  Does he encounter violence etc?  With a shrug Tony said this and other things come with the territory.  He’d been propositioned for sex, which he’d never lower himself to, he’d been attacked over a cup of tea, and he’d been offered drugs though he’s never so much as smoked a spliff.  Sleeping rough is a last resort, he said, he sometimes gets casual work and can afford a hostel, but finding a full-time job is difficult.

I really liked Tony and felt for him, especially when he said he’d slept rough the night before and got drenched; he’d spent his last pennies on getting his clothes laundered.  Though the weather had improved I couldn’t bear the thought of him kipping in a doorway so wondered if he’d prefer a roof over his head, just one night…

So I found myself in a lay-by near Murton, setting up stealth-camp.  Knowing he was hungry, as was I, I vowed to rustle something up, explaining I love cooking for people and don’t get the chance nowadays.  He was the chef and I was the novice but with meagre provisions I managed to make a meal which he seemed to enjoy.  Beggars can’t be choosers, he said!  There was no wine to go with the dish, but we didn’t need it because we were laughing like drains at how bizarre all this was; total strangers, sharing food, sharing jokes, playing Ludo (!) and bonding in ludicrous adversity.

Though the Ottermobile claims to be a two-berth it’s a tight squeeze, but I managed the awkward and funny manoeuvre of the seats to bed down – not before I’d declared some ground-rules:

No farting

No breakfast

In the morning he must be gone before I do my ablutions, and

No funny business.

Responding in order, he said he doesn’t fart, he’d get breakfast elsewhere, he’d no desire to see me “ablute” and as for funny business he wouldn’t touch me with a fucking barge-pole.  I said I felt a mixture of amusement, offence and comfort from that peroration.  Tony laughed, telling me I was a lovely bloke, if a bit mad, he’d had a great time and I’m crap at Ludo.

Next morning, after a quiet night’s kip he made a sharp exit as promised, with a quip that I could now shit in peace.  He also took my number and promised to stay in touch.  Whether that will happen I very much doubt, but that doesn’t matter.  He was a fine young man; he was good company, he made me laugh, but most importantly he made me think about what’s important.  “We Stand Together” went the mantra after recent terrorist attacks.  What more can we do but help each other through?  We’re human beings and that’s what we do, or most of us.  I’ve always championed the underdog, it’s in my make-up.  If I can help I will, and I wish I could do more.  I’m no saint, God knows, but I like to think and I like to know that whatever happens to me and if I end up in Tony’s shoes, someone will be there to help me.  I’ll think a lot about Tony and marvel at his cheer in dark days, I’ll hope he’ll get back to Brussels, and I’ll forever be saddened at how it got to this.  We all roll the dice I suppose, but only some of us score a six.

Right now though I’m concerned about getting to the Filey coast and up into Scotland.  Time for me, like for everyone, is running out.

Ludo

Best of Both Worlds – The Dubious Art of Finding a Story

ITV STORYTELLING EVENT MAXUS

It’s not so straightforward to approach people these days.  I’m not saying folk are unfriendly, by and large the world turns around because most of us are law-abiding, decent and civil.  But with the increase of crime comes the rise of suspicion, so when you make a beeline for a complete stranger in a pub, deep down you might expect the cold shoulder, a mouthful of abuse or even a smack in the mouth.  So you’d think I’d be cautious, but to be honest I’m not.  Not entirely.

All those years ago when I was interviewed by Health Unlimited for the job in Rwanda I was asked how I’d cope in a dangerous place and/or situation, and I used the analogy that as a writer I see two pubs in the town square – one looks quiet, the other sounds rowdy.  I choose the rowdy one because that could be more interesting; I might get a story and a character with my pint.  And that was the case in Leeds recently.  The story I found isn’t the greatest ever told but I’ll use it to illustrate my point.

But first, you don’t find stories sitting on your arse, and I’m not a great fan of researching on the internet, which to me is the last resort.  You have to market yourself and I find the pub has the best footfall in terms of setting out my stall.  And there I will feed carrots to the horses and get the stories from their mouths.

So I’m in a rough pub in Leeds, where I order a pint and casually take in the customers.  There’s a ladies’ darts match on and I note the tattoos, the hairdos or attempts thereof, the cleavage, the banter and frankly the admirable ability to find the treble twenty.  It’s a weekly event they practise for, dress up for, then look forward to post-match drinks, fags and trays of meat paste sandwiches and limp lettuce.  But that’s not all.  In a corner there’s a couple of fellas playing ukelele and banjo, singing folk songs.  In another there’s an elderly couple mouthing the words, probably inaccurately, between sips.  At the bar there’s a passionate debate happening for three tough-looking guys, the crux of which sounds like would Leeds go up this season and would re-ownership of Elland Road bode well?  I feel like adding my views but resist temptation because I’ve seen someone to pick on – the biggest and roughest-looking man of the considerable bunch of clientele.

He’s on his own right now but I sense he’s waiting for someone or something to happen.  He’s a big guy looking 50 but probably younger, covered in body art.  One of the tattoos, a serpent, coils around his neck and into his bald head, finishing at the fontanelle.  In his nose he wears a ring and in his ears are those big holey things I don’t know the name of but remind me of the Maasai I’ve seen in Kenya and Tanzania. His considerable torso is covered with a denim jacket with the sleeves ripped off, showing his impressively-painted guns.  I ask if this seat is spare and he just nods.

After a few slurps of my Timothy Taylor I finally manage to get a word.  Riskily I tell him I’m not a local and he tells me he knows, he has me down as a traveller.  He’s clocked my bag, he’s clocked me scraping together shrapnel at the bar and he’s figured I’m on my uppers.  I confirm this, and tell him I’m living in a van.  He seems to relax now, and even commends my story, saying he’s done most of the UK and Europe on his motorbike, a Harley.  I know nothing about bikes but explain my brother had one, and he’s impressed until I add that it was a Suzuki 250.  Sensing there’s not much mileage in my brother’s bike I push it maybe and ask if he’s a Hell’s Angel.  He shakes his head, insisting he just likes bikes and he also likes free-living and having sex, and with a tap of his nose he adds that he doesn’t work.  His name is Craig but people call him Bex.  I want to push further and ask why Bex, and how he makes his living, but he begins his story so I hang fire…

He’s waiting for his wife.  Well, she isn’t his wife, not any more, she’s his first wife and now his mistress, his current wife is playing darts.  She knows he’s having an affair with his ex, and his ex knows he’s got a wife at home, and knows that she knows.  It’s all hunky dory for Bex, he’s got the best of both worlds.  At this point he asks if I want another and I decline, saying I’m driving, but he insists that if I refuse he will finish up falling out with me.  It’s the first hint of aggression and I realise this could go either way.  When he returns with three pints (one for his mistress who he says has just texted to say she’s on her way) he tells me more about both his worlds: the bikes, the bike crashes, the metal pin in his left leg thanks to some knob-head in a BMW on Snake Pass, the brawls, the women, the sex.  There’s still an edge to his pitch and I kind of hope his mistress would turn up and change the dynamic.  Then he asks if I’m married, so I tell him separated, and he asks how I go on for sex?

Sometimes in unpredictable situations I find self-deprecation can help – it can throw the the other person, surprise them into submission, make them see you’re no threat, or even make them laugh.  So I go for telling him I don’t get lucky, and even if I did I’m not sure I’d be any good at it anymore – I’d have to pretend that were someone else.  The gag is not mine it belongs to the Bob Monkhouse estate, and Bex laughs so I’m cool with robbing a dead man if it achieves the change of gear I’m after.  But lurking beneath the laughter and testosterone and clouding the beer I sense another story, if I dare ask.  Because there’s a sadness in his worlds and a depression in his eyes that I can see; it takes one to know one…

… Bex was born Craig B (name withheld) in Scarborough, where his father was a fisherman his mother a seamstress.  It wasn’t a happy marriage.  His father was a chronic drunk; when he wasn’t at sea he was in the pub and when he wasn’t slurping pints he was beating his wife.  One night the beatings got out of hand and his mother lashed out in self-defence, but this only provoked his fury and he clouted her over the head with the coal shovel, killing her… and into that beautiful world was born Craig.  As his father did time and subsequently died inside, Craig was brought up by his Aunty and abused for years by his Uncle.  Then at the age of fifteen he ran away and never went back.  To this day he won’t go near Scarborough.  He’ll travel the world, but not there – too many haunting memories…

I’ve summarised the story but you get the picture – this gargantuan man, looking for all the world the toughest you’d encounter, reduced to near-tears as he unburdens to me, a complete stranger he’s only met one pint ago.  And I don’t really know how I’ve done it, how I’ve managed to get him to offload.  Or maybe it isn’t me at all, maybe I’ve just picked on someone who really needs to tell?   Anyway, not abruptly, after a bit more chat (you can’t just jump up and leave when someone’s borne his soul) I say it’s nice to talk to him but I really must get off and find somewhere to stealth-camp.  And thankfully he’s fine with that, so I wonder if he’s had his fill of emptying his closet of skeletons.

As I empty my bladder before heading out, I ponder his story and its ratio of fact to fiction.  Did his father really kill his mother while she was carrying him?  Did he ever meet his father, look into the eyes of his mother’s slaughterer?  Was it really a coal shovel?  Does he really own a Harley?  Is his left leg really made of metal thanks to the knob-head in a BMW?  Is his wife really throwing arrows in the bar?  Does the first-wife-cum-mistress exist and is she really on her way?

Then as I head for the exit I look back to our corner.  And there is Bex grinning over at me and waving, and at his side is a very attractive blonde, sipping her pint, smiling and also giving a wave.  Whether she’s his wife or ex-wife-cum-mistress I’ll never know.  But I leave it to my imagination as I head for my van, passing a beautiful gleaming Harley Davidson on the way.

A to Z of Stealth-Camping

cattle

As I parked in the Lancaster lay-by with cattle for company I thought about the procedure for stealth-camping.  This might be of use to fellow campervanners, or of interest to the normal people out there.  It’s also my third A to Z and I promise my last… at least for a while.  So, here’s the procedure I go through each night:

A = Am I safe?  This applies equally in a rural or urban setting.  Are there doggers around?  Arseholes peeping their horns?  Kids calling me a paedo?  Or maniacs?  In an urban street this part of the day can be fun because I’m a voyeur, watching the neighbourhood gradually turn in, watching love-affairs going on right under my nose, spying drug-trafficking…

B = Bed.  Fold down the passenger seat to make my bed up.

C = Curtains.  Close one at a time so I can be vigilant (and voyeuristic).  Rear doors first but leave the side doors so I can see my garden.

D = Dark.  Wait for sundown.  This will obviously be sooner in the coming winter months.

E = Earplugs.  If I’m kipping on an A-road the roar of the traffic can be less than conducive.

F = Fag.  There always has to be the last smoke of the day.

G = Gun.  Is it to hand?

H = Hayfever tablets.  If I’m rural I’ll pop a couple of anti-Mr-Beans.

I = Imbibe.  Last glass of something strong then a pint of water (preferably local spring).

J = Jumper.  Take it off and turn it into a pillow.

K = Keys.  Not in the ignition but close by in case of a quick getaway.

L = Lock doors.

M = Make sure I’ve locked doors.  As I’m OCD this will happen more than once!

N = Note how many cars are speeding past and when it starts to go quiet.

O = Off with the trousers.

P = Piss.

Q = Quick shake of the old todger to avoid dribbles.

R = Read.  I always read something while keeping one eye out.  Multi-tasking.

S = Sleeping bag.  Get it unfurled and ready for use.

T = Teeth.  Take them out and leave them to soak in Sterident.

U = Undress.

V = Vanity.  Camper-vanity.  Check my underpants for cleanliness.  If I die on the road I don’t want the nurses telling my family that there were skidmarks.

W = Wank.  No, I only put that because I know some of you will expect it because you have filthy minds.  My W is Writing.  I must write every day, whether it’s my novel, the screenplay I’m penning with two VIPs from TV, or this shit.

X = X Y Z of final checks.  A series of questions such as “have I locked the doors?”  If the answer to these is

Y = “Yes” then it’s safe to sleep…

Z = Zzzzzz….  and dream of a rich widow taking me in, or Stoke City winning the FA Cup, or world peace, or a book deal, or at least a better life after all this kipping in fucking lay-bys!

“Come Come Nuclear Bomb” North Wales

Found myself in North Wales and got lost.  Finally wound up in Prestatyn, parked for free and strolled down the town to the traeth (beach).  The town looked OK for one street, ie not tacky, but at the traeth I was shocked at how many wind-farms were out of sea.  Hundreds.  I’m all in in favour of non-nuclear energy but these are an eyesore on the horizon.  I’ve seen many of these on my journeys, from the Yorkshire Moors to the Cumbrian Mountains and have debated internally their aesthetic value – are they ugly modern monstrosities or majestic pieces of kinetic art: angels’ wings or the bare arms of synchronised swimmers?  Here, in Prestatyn, they’re unquestionably monstrosities.

I curtailed my hike down the uninspiring traeth and went for a pint in a pub called The William Morgan, where the barmaid gave me a welcoming smile… then promptly disappeared.  When I at last got my Hobgoblin I found a busy area hoping for some local insight.  But nobody wanted to talk.  Liverpool were on the telly so I supped up and fucked off to Towyn.  There I stealth-camped, got sloshed and wrote the A to Z of things that depress me.

I’ve had a few texts and calls about that post, saying it made for good reading – my friend Kim especially; I used to play “Room 101” with her on drunken nights back in Salford Quays.  I miss her.  She promised to come and visit the Ottermobile in September, which should be good.

The lay-by I chose in which to stealth-camp turned out to be on one of the busiest roads I’ve christened – all night the Ottermobile wobbled as cars sped past, a number of their fuckwit drivers peeping their horns believing I was shagging.  I’m used to that now, it’s just boring, so it didn’t disturb my slumber or my dreams of England (and for that matter dreams of shagging).

This morning I washed, finished the Guardian crossword (which had an irritating crease right through it) and drove to Towyn canol y dref (town centre).  Because I’d been here with my brothers and parents as a small child I wanted to retrace my steps for my novel, especially to see the smallest house in Britain – so small infact that I couldn’t find it!  More truthfully I couldn’t stay long because there was nowhere to park.  Found one pay-and-display at last and got the van stuck under the iron bar – thought I’d do it easy but learned otherwise with an almighty and embarrassing CLANG.  Why do these things happen when there are loads of fucking people about??

With Towyn being a non-starter (or rather stopper) I headed to Rhyl, where I found a similar welcome.  Why these “seaside towns they forgot to close down” don’t do more to boost their tourist footfall God only knows.  This place really did feel impoverished.  I had family holidays here in the 60s – one of the happiest memories of my life is when my brothers and I hired four-wheeled bikes and terrorised the caravan park, tearing down people’s lines of washing.  They felt like dull-weather days but happy, my mum and dad doing their best for us as always, to give us a bit of sea and sun.

I’m afraid not much has altered in 40-odd years – the caravans are more modern but it’s still like heading back in time.  So I end up back in Prestatyn where I know I can at least park.  Made a bacon roll and realised I needed a postcard.  The Card Factory doesn’t have them on its production-line (mental note to sue the bastards on the grounds of Trade Descriptions).  The Post Office was also card-less so I decided to forget the idea and instead went to Tesco for a piss.  The door didn’t lock, the loo wouldn’t flush and there was no soap or hot water.  I yearned again for England so after slashing angrily against the porcelain I cranked up the engine, vowing that next time I visit Wales I’d head for the countryside, because I know that’s beautiful.

I did at least learn some of the language: traeth = beach, araf = slow, yr heddlu = police and, most importantly, allanfa = exit.

Nantwich and the bosom of my friends and family here I come.

Another Place

After a brief stop in Liverpool for some gas, courtesy of the brilliant shop that is Go Outdoors, I decided to tootle through Bootle.  My target was Crosby, where I’d always wanted to tick off the Antony Gormley project Another Place – because I believed it to be a special work of art, and because the title itself has some meaning for me on this project.  I tried to find Another Place a few years back, but took the wrong turning.  On that day I was gormlessly Gormley-less.

But today I saw them, 100 iron figures, with considerable penises, standing on the beach or half-submerged in the sea.  I was mightily impressed.  I took some pictures, which when I have better technology I’ll post on here.  They made me laugh and they made me cry and they made me think.  One was wearing a sweater, which I wondered whether was added by some wag, or by Gormley himself.  The half-submerged ones reminded me of a Be Bop Deluxe song, which contains a favourite lyric of mine – “this is the last resort/let’s walk into the sea.”  Though I wanted to cry, and to think, I didn’t want to think about following suit.  Instead I laughed to myself at two fat women using one of the figures as a resting-post, and at two teenage girls doing selfies with one.  I pondered what Gormley would think about how people interact with his creations; he’d probably be as amused as I was.

I enjoyed a stroll along the shore and among the sand dunes, but this proved painful as I’d been bitten in Delamere Forest the other day.  My friend Tiddle-Eye-Po was wrong – there aren’t “just trees”, there are also things that want to fucking eat you alive.

Apart from a swollen lower left leg – anti-histamines and Savlon called for – my health is pretty good.  I’m doing OK.  Eating well, keeping the booze intake to a sensible level, and keeping clean.  I do look a bit feral at times though, due to the grizzly grey beard.  I opened my laptop this morning and the reflection, which is never flattering, bore a startling resemblance to Jack Hargreaves.  “HOW the fuck did that happen?” I cried.  I realise that joke isn’t for all ages.  Obviously, life on the road on your own means no sex – see tomorrow’s diary entry called “No Sex Please, We’re Skittish.”  But with a beard like mine and such a bad hairdo I’m sure I’m not very desirable anyway… except to insects of course.

Stealth-camping is actually fun.  I’ve learned the knack of parking up near someone’s house – not near enough to be conceived a threat, but near enough to make it look like The Ottermobile belongs to it.  I mean it’s not a nick-able vehicle, but I fear for my belongings, and of course for my safety.  Some places are better than others obviously, and I have to compliment Sefton Council and the Crosby area itself for being so quiet, clean, warm and campervan-friendly.  I thought I might stay another night.  Then again, being skittish, I might try Another Place.

Depression

So, depression.  Another serial-killer.  A far more potent and epidemic than the Poundland Terrorists.  I’d intended to write a passionate study of the black dog today, but it seems churlish and selfish when the weather is so beautiful.  Woke up on Day2 in Media City to birdsong and bright sunshine through my windscreen.  Decided to fill a bucket and have a shower naked in the open-air.  It felt invigorating, amazing, though I’m not sure those tipping up for work at the Bupa offices over the road would agree.

The Ottermobile boasts a toilet but it’s a tight squeeze, if you will.  I’ll spare you further detail as this is a blog, not a logbook.  But there’s space to do what I want and to get clean afterwards.  It’s important.  I’m quite anal when it comes to cleanliness of the arse.  I hope yesterday’s picture proves as much.  I’m getting bogged down.

Suffice it to say that I’m finding a rhythm to my new life.  Not a routine, I leave that for the employed.  A rhythm, in a 4metre square house on wheels.  I slept well again, but realised I haven’t yet woken with an erection since I embarked.  Good though, because it’d be a waste of space on my own, and space is at a premium.  I hope it’s temporary, nothing more sinister than it getting used to its new surroundings, and not because it’s a member of the over-50s club.

I have another remarkable realisation, that I’ve stopped banging my head on cupboards.  That’s good too, because I need to keep these marbles; I finished The Guardian Cryptic Crossword in 30minutes, a sure sign of that being so.  I smiled in self-satisfaction that I’d given the compiler a good match.  It’s good to smile, even smugly I guess.  And I’m smug to know I’m going for a glass of wine with friends in this beautiful city, this brilliant sun, and to know that others will be stuck in offices with their agendas and their routines.  And to know that I’ve opted out of that.  I’ve more on this in future posts, but for now I’ll pop a cork and keep on smiling.

Depression, the Black Dog, the Serial Killer, can wait another day.