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Tuesday, January 8

Getting On With It

For anyone who's had the misfortune to read the last few blog entries, I apologise. They were somewhat cursory in their writing style. It was like I was just trying to get it over with, rather than make any sort of sense out of what I was writing about. I may well repeat some of the facts in the next bit as I try to make sense of the first handful of days for the year.

I finally managed to sort myself out with a copy of the Amy Winehouse album last night. This is not a major achievement. All I had to do was give Mr Asda, well Mr Walmart I suppose, a grand total of £9.77 and the disc was mine. The display in Asda promised CDs from £6.97 (a very Asda price) and the particular display with Amy's Back To Black had no individual price for it. Having said that, I didn't expect that even the massive buying power of Asda would have reduced this CD, which seems not to be for cheap anywhere - somehow they've kept the price up, which is probably the major reason why I've not bought it sooner. When I've been in supermarkets, I've known I could get it cheaper online and when I've been online, it's not been below my cheapness threshold - the threshold below which all prices seem so cheap that the process of making the decision whether I really want it seems more costly than the purchase.

So, the Amy Winehouse disc is something I've been wanting for a while but haven't actually let myself have. As a result there's been a certain amount of hankering. My hankering was finally sated last night as the bags full of shopping, largely containing the ingredients for the lasagne I was due to cook for my friend, along with a dish in which to bake the aforementioned treat, also contained Miss Winehouse, who was put on in the background as I did my focused bout of high-velocity cooking.

The process of doing some cooking, especially with a time budget, was quite rewarding. I was focusing on doing those tricky tasks, like slicing members of the onion family, or whatever, while thinking about the various pans on the go and also asking my sous chef to prepare things I would need soon. I also had half a mind on the washing up. This was more fun than it sounds. In fact, it was a huge amount of fun. Fun fun fun.

I like working at high speed. I like the challenge of intense working. It has to be stuff that is achievable and rewarding. This is one of the reasons why I like writing computer software - you're making stuff quickly. I also like writing quickly, though last night's efforts were somewhat stilted by exhaustion and an attempt to cover a lot of stuff that happened so quickly, I could barely remember any of the interesting details, if, indeed, any of the details were remotely interesting. My friend commented that my persistence and focus, preparing last night's food, were similar to how I behave when I'm rushing us to a gig where we've got to arrive just in time. I keep calm, but I'm totally tunnel visioned on the target.

This sort of behaviour can be fun. However, it can lead me into trouble. Last year, with a particular tunnel vision on an end goal, and a bunch of obstacles turning up out of the blue and a bunch of curved balls being thrown at me, I managed to stress my way into an awkward moment. However, I managed to dig myself out of that moment at just before breaking point. The technique I used was interesting - I've never used it before, but it occurred to me and I think it could be used by other people. My body was racing and things had gotten out of hand. Rather than hit rock bottom, I went with the other person involved into another room. I asked if we could step "outside the moment". I then, in the third person, related the story of what had just been happening. Well, not quite in the third person. I didn't say "Then Ashley did this". I simply told the story from the outside of it. So, having described what had happened, rather than put my own position forward or try to change the situation, I was no longer being affected by it, I was merely talking about it. This allowed me to see it from the outside and think of ways of dealing with what I had seen as an observer.

I think that's perhaps how I feel this year about some of the events of last year. Although some of the things which bothered me last year still have in them the power to upset me, I can talk about them with the distance of the arbitrary border between years. So, I could say that I was doing a job which was driving me nuts, but that was LAST YEAR. So, it's not something which I can reasonably be expected to feel right here right now. As a result of stepping outside the moment, you can be cleansed of some of the feelings.

On the stand-up stage, there's a strange combination you need of being in and outside of the moment. You need to be spontaneous and thus in the present tense when performing. However, you need to be disconnected from the insecurities and fears that can affect the performer. I think I switch between modes when I'm performing. I have the voice of my internal "director" tuning my performance from the outside as I go along. However, the good gigs involve me just letting go and seeing what happens.

Last night's performance was largely a directed one. However, I enjoyed the moments during the song as I hit the various corners of the lyrics and musical structure. It's a song I quite like doing. It has enough surprises in it to keep me interested as a performer, and I know some of the audience at last night's gig were laughing at it. It didn't make room sized laughs, but then I just went along to watch and was on stage within about 2 minutes of arriving in the room, for one song, so I hardly had chance to set the scene, let alone get up to full funny factor.

If you want to hear "Beautiful Girl In A Coma" then here is a link. It's not Amy Winehouse, but it is me.

The Amy Winehouse album is very good. It will undoubtedly get a lot of airplay in my car and on my work computer, while I try to get through the various things I need to do in the next week or two. I like the way that music can be an accompaniment to work. I had the radio on on the weekend. So, I was actually able to remember which bits of decorating I did and how long they took by using my memory of which section of the room I was when which radio programme was playing. For instance, I was painting the emulsion paint around the shelves area of the room while Richard Herring's "That Was Then This Is Now" programme was playing on Radio 2 on Saturday lunchtime. I was painting the second coat of that emulsion about 8 hours later when I managed to last an entire show's worth of Russell Brand on the same station.

I think I have a spatial element to my memory. I often remember where something was in relation to something else. Like if there's an interesting page in a book, I'll remember if it was on a left- or right-hand page.

Is this interesting?

Probably not.

Finally, it would appear that I'm going to court. Hurray. I have a date for my appearance at Rotherham Magistrates' Court. Apparently I was speeding when they took a nice picture of my car from overhead. Here was me thinking those cameras were like those ones on the rollercoaster's at Alton Towers. I had my arms in the air and I was screaming on the photo and I assumed that, when I got to the end of the M1, they would be on a big board, for sale for £4. Apparently not. Apparently, the cameras are used to help them identify if you were going too fast and, if you do, apparently it's against the law and you need to go to court.

I'm so very naive.

I'm so very sorry too. I really don't want to lose my driving licence. I shall be saying that in the court and we'll see what happens. I'm taking the train to the court. That should be fun.

2008 is the year when it's all going to happen.

By the way, this blog is now up over 2000 posts!


Blogger Steve said...

2000 posts?
Good grief!
That means in the 15ish years I've known you, I've probably spent more time reading your blog than actually talking to you :-S

1:54 PM  

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