Sounds

A picture of Winnie taken by my Dad

Back home in suburbia, it is a Tuesday morning. Pre dawn I was awoken by three metallic taps. In conversation with Re we realise the same three taps disturb our sleep at the same hour every morning. Comforting in their regularity, like all the other sounds which accompany us out here in the 'burbs. There is the 'Bing Bong Bing' which sounds like the beginning of a PA announcement in a train station. If we are home we hear it every morning between 9 and 10. The train station is surely too far away for the sound to carry this far, what could it be? The bird calls which become a cacophony in the mornings. Our neighbour #1's motorbike chundering down the hill at 5:30am. Neighbour #2's son revving his car up the clanking metal ramp on their driveway late at night. Our dog at bedtime huffs and puffs, her claws tip tapping on the deck. Any rustles from the trees, fences or gates elevate the huffs to barks. Our neighbours dog 'Mad Stare' Trevor groans and moans in ecstasy as he writhes on his back, apparently he has a 'skin condition'. His little Jack Russel sidekick, Daisy, normally runs up into the bushes during the small hours and lets out a shrill scream which sound like a nightmarish child being brutalised. Then of course we have Neighbour K who screams at her husband. Sometimes weeks go by and they are quiet but then she starts with the swearing and screaming. It normally ends with her husband scuttling out to his car with Neighbour K smashing whatever she has at hand across the bonnet as he starts the engine to leave in a rumble of gravel.

Most of the time, like now, I hear magpies call; the clock ticking; the Kookaburras cackling down the hill; distant truck brakes down at the traffic lights and the turtle plopping and splashing. Did I mention we have a turtle?

Long-haul night flight

Our flight from London has been a bit special. We flew north over Copenhagen. The sun dropped low and the clouds cleared revealing the Baltic islands rimmed in golden sunlight.

Kabul? Singapore? I can't remember.

On we flew over the snow covered fields of Estonia and night fell. I dozed with my forehead against the glass. I wondered at my own sanity and sense when I cried at the in-flight movie, Crazy Rich Asians. The moon glinted on the tiny Aral sea below. The scattered ground lights coalesced into arcing constellations of Kabul and what I took to be a huge military base. It seemed everytime I looked out into the darkness we were flying over another storybook city Lahore, Delhi and Lucknow all drifted beneath us.

City lights out the windowMore citys belowKabul?

The world appears so small and so full of human life from economy class.

Extreme strolling in London

We are on the train to Newcastle. We overslept and had to run like maniacs to get here. I managed to misplace my oyster card and my subsequent tube ticket to kings cross. The ticket gate staff were probably too startled by my sweaty panicked luggage humping madness to stop me. Nonetheless we made it with minutes to spare.

London has been spectacular. The casual tourist is well catered to. Seeing the city as I do in brief visits every one, two or three years the most obvious change is the rise of retail. Although I have to say I don't always visit at the same time of year. I think I should just drop my faux sciencey approach.

The new buildings and city infrastructure I saw were impressive. For example Westminster tube station could be described as a neogothic space dungeon built by titanic forces. The escalators spiralled deeper and deeper underground beneath vast black pipes. Above, below and all around were empty gaping concrete galleries illuminated and netted. It felt like an expession of power by the architect or their contractor.

Cutty Sark

An older expression of power we visited was Greenwich. We visited the Observatory and the Cutty Sark, not for the first time.

in Bombay/Mumbai

Bombay (as the locals I have met insist on calling it) keeps reminding me of my time in Alexandria in the early 90s. I walked a lot and obsessed over the bicycle culture back then too.

A slum laundry?Mumbai Housing

In another life I would happily live here. The chaotic order of miriad cultures. The acoutrements of human life spilling across the roads and footpaths. This stuff is my fuel.

in tokyo

Our first trip to Japan. After driving up the coast and waiting at the airport, the nine hour flight was not so bad. We spent two hours figuring out and getting the trains to our airbnb. We dumped our bags after 20 odd hours travelling and found a bar which was still open. The menu items where written in japanese on slats of wood hanging from the walls. Luckily the couple on the neighbouring table spoke English and helped us out. By the time we had eaten and drank our fill we had befriended Jody and Hiro, our kind translators.

Tokyo is a massive city. We are staying in Naka-Meguro which has gone through the global urban gentrification process. I found a secondhand clothes shop yesterday with a worn out overcoat for an eyewatering price. Every second cafe has a European or North American theme. We have been getting morning coffee and pastries at a pattiserie near our apartment. The streets at night are crowded with tokyoites along with Japanese and foriegn tourists. Mostly walking or riding bicycles. The cars are mostly wanker 1%ers driving like they own the place. I sound slightly bitter because I saw a Jeep tearing down a crowded street tonight without slowing for the toddlers they narrowly missed.

So, this post has been a bit of an exercise in publishing via the terminal using my phone. Publish and be damned!

Walking and Travel

As a nineteen year old, Bruce Chatwin introduced me to the latin phrase, 'solvitur ambulando' (The Songlines). Translated as 'it is solved by walking' I liked the phrase immediately. It has become a talisman to be kept in my thoughts. I have not only sought solutions by walking but also by running and cycling. Physical exertion is part of the process. This phrase to me is about abnegation of immediate responsibilities freeing myself to remember or dicover my own core responsibilities. We bog ourselves in uneccesary essentials (lawns need mowing, dogs walking, gutters fixing... ) it is good to remind ourselves of what is actually important to just live and be happy. Solvitur ambulando is my reset button to living.

Tourists start out with lots of gold (suitable for shopping with), a credit card, lots of food, some maps, and an expensive camera. Most monsters don't like being photographed.

(Nethack)

I have not had the chance to go for a walk/run/ride this past week. My work and home chores have taken precedent. Next week I am visiting Tokyo. I am starting to look forward to walking its streets. There is something rather lovely about landing in a completely new environment and wandering around like an interplanetary alien exploring 'this city thing'. The aimless explorer who has been defined by Baudelaire as the 'botanist of the sidewalk' or the by the situationists as a drifting psycho-geographer. These romantic notions are appealing but in all honesty I will be a tourist. I will walk the city with my phone in hand and no doubt share a few snaps on social media. I will eat food that is new or unusual to me. I will buy souvenirs.

Readings

Blinkers

I recently bought some TaoTronics noise cancelling headphones. I thought they'd make the long-haul flight home to the UK less painful.

As an itirant miserable bastard I have found they also work to make long-haul life less painful. Sometimes I just want to switch the world off and step out for a bit. These headphones give me a bit a peace to recompose myself. Not as much peace as the electronic blinkers Panasonic is currently flogging though.

I chose life

I think if I was that desparate I could probably achieve peace with a sack over my head prior to a short walk on a busy motorway.

Next Year

At times I have a plan. I have been known to make a five year plan and more or less stick to it. More happenstance, less plan to be honest. I had planned to quit my previous relationship and go live in the Falklands or the Australian outback. My kids would get monosyllabic postcards occaisonally with no return address. Eventually I'd drown in the frozen wastes of the South Atlantic or get bitten by a death adder far from the nearest billabong and they'd never hear from me again. I was going to grow a beard, stop talking to people and just knuckle down to hard-bitten bachelorhood. I tweaked that plan a bit. Instead I hooked up with a kind and caring woman and her little boy. We remade the plan and it is a much better plan. I stayed nearby and weathered the break up. I have not stopped talking but I do talk less. I have grown a beard.

Now it is time for another plan. Happenstance will no doubt take precedent. Nonetheless I'll give it a try and get down to some boring specifics.

PLAN 1:

I have been considering studying for my Honours in Oncology beginning in February next year. I have to decide this week as the applications for scholarships close at the end of October.

PLAN 2

Alternatively, I could just spend a year goofing off. I could work less; spend time with my family; ride my bicycle; travel; fix my house. Maybe I will go to Uni the year after that.

It's a no brainer really. You know it.

Erratic Reading

Last night I started reading Night Walking by Prof. Beaumont. It felt immediately familiar to me. I mention it now only to make note of the phrase Post Circadian Capitalism and the word Noctivagator. Fab.

I did not sleep much after 3am this morning. I'm not getting enough exercise, too sleepy it's a circular defeat. The rain was thundering down. I imagined the pool of water in the cellar growing to gargantuan proportions and engulfing my life. Then I had to pee.

After the grey light of dawn I put up a ladder and cleaned the leaves out of the gutter. Then ran a few errands with Harly and the Dog. We had walk at Gallows, our local beach. I found a green sea snake with barnacles growing on it's skin. It was dead, blood running from it's mouth. I put it on the bonnet of the car for a photo. Here it is in circular defeat:

I found a green sea snake with barnacles growing on it's skin

I wonder where it came from? I thought the waters here were too cool for sea snakes. I wondered if it had been swimming during the night whilst I lay awake in bed. An oceanic traveller, a noctivagator.

Bicycle Lights

Every 6 months or so I find myself at the bicycle shop buying another set of blinking LED bicycle lights. The last pair having inevitably fallen apart; fallen off or ceased to work. It always costs 10 bucks more than I expect. They always have new and irritatingly imperfect ways to fasten to my bike. I hate to think how much money I have spent on the infernal things. For a few short years I was happy with a Shimano hub dynamo and light I pinched off a mate (Thx Brisbane Matt). I have been drooling over the SON hub dynamos for too long now. My tight-fisted nature has prevented me from shelling out the astronomical price required.

I rode my lovely Oppy down to Macauleys Headland for a swim last week At least I have decent bicycle riding footwear :)

This post is just a note to myself in case I find myself in an unlikely scenario in which I decide to blow a bucket of cash on ridiculously expensive bicycle paraphernalia.



Hmmm... I can see this post growing over time.