The-Lesson-1992

7 September 2017

MYSTERY OF DISCIPLINE

Funny thing about discipline. If I'm given a task, an assignment, a job or a request, whether professionally or personally, I immediately go into soldier mode. I don't exactly salute but almost. All my dutiful and resourceful neurons start firing and a timekeeper starts keeping time and if there's a deadline I will meet it, you can be sure of that.

But for that machinery to start working, the task or request has to come from outside myself. If it's only me myself and nobody else telling me to do something, even something I really really want to do, you can bet your life I will procrastinate and procrastinate until procrastination becomes my middle name. It's my Achilles heel, my nemesis and my bête noire. Fortunately, tasks and requests do come along to save me whenever procrastinitis has bound and gagged me. For me, discipline is freedom.

Discipline

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3 September 2017

VAN GOGH APPEARS ON FACEBOOK

Van-Gogh-bandaged-ear

That ear business, I want to clear it up once and for all. They tell me you can put a notice on this book face and then many people see it and it’s like a disease, everybody in the world gets it immediately. So I’m going to tell the real story about my ear and then I’m off.

That bastard Gauguin started it. I say bastard but I loved the man, I worshipped him before I had the stupid idea to invite him to Arles. Stupid stupid, yes, it was stupid. But it was such a beautiful idea. We would be brothers in art, work side by side, paint and talk and eat and drink together and then the other painters would come and we’d sell our work and support each other. We wouldn’t be lonely anymore and it would be paradise.

But Gauguin, what did he do? He laughed at me. He laughed, stomping around my room waving a brush. Ha ha ha, paradise? It would be hell, he said. Paint with you, live with you? I’d rather die! You’re crazy and you’re a bore and your paintings are a mess. Look at those worms of paint crawling around your canvases, wiggly wiggly, all your crazy feelings crawling around, no dignity, no design, no serenity. Paradise? Ha ha ha! Nobody will come here, they all think you’re boring and crazy.

So I let him have it. I took a tube of chrome yellow, squeezed it into my hands then smeared it all over his face and his hair. He got hold of me, pulled my head back, grabbed a knife off the table and slashed my ear. It all happened so fast, I must have passed out. When I came to Gauguin was gone and I was bleeding all over the place. The pain in my head was bad but not as bad as the pain of Gauguin’s words. I couldn’t stand it. I had to see another human being. So I wrapped up the bloody piece of my ear that was lying on the table and took it to Rachel at the bordello. I gave it to her, she was always nice to me.

 I never told anyone that Gauguin had done it.

That’s it. You won’t see me again.

Vincent

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29 August 2017

FACEBOOK

Can't decide if facebooking is an addiction, an affliction, an inspiration or an irritation, distraction or destruction, indispensable or irrelevant, here today or gone tomorrow?

Those of you who have resisted Facebook won't know what I mean, those who are on it will understand.

Nat - August 2017

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18 August 2017

BLIND SPOT

To the South Bank last night to hear Teju Cole talk about his new book Blind Spot.

I went with Jean Morris, Rachel Rawlins and Dave Bonta, all of us old friends of Teju's, part of a group of about a dozen bloggers who met online around 2003, when blogging was a new, uncrowded and exciting platform. Somehow we found each other's blogs via common interests in reading, writing, art, ourselves, seeing and interpreting the world through rainbow-coloured glasses. Then we met in real life, in New York, in London, and over the years followed each other's lives and work.

Teju Cole's career took off with Every Day is for the Thief in 2007, soaring steadily ever since and there's no doubt at all that he's headed for the stratosphere. Unsurprisingly, fame hasn't changed him a bit and I mean that in a good way. His warmth, humour and insightfulness are always genuine and of-the-moment. When he answers an interviewer's questions he takes his time, thinking on his feet, coming up with answers which you know are born right then and there. This is a quality I particularly appreciate when so many public utterances, on any subject, are so often calculated soundbites, selfie salestalk or rehashed re-heated rehearsed rhetoric.

Teju Cole, Southbank August 2017

Teju Cole, 17 August 2017

South Bank, from Royal Festival Hall

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16 August 2017

A HANDSHAKE

I was in Costa this afternoon paying for my coffee at the counter. A man who had been sitting at a table facing the entrance comes up to me and shakes my hand politely. I look at him, wondering if I know him. I don't. He sits down again.

I take my coffee and sandwich and sit at a table towards the back where I can observe him. He's a small, thin, balding man with glasses, nothing remarkable about him, except that he suddenly breaks into a recitation in a high, sing-song voice. I can't make out the words but it sounds like a multiplication table that a classroom of children might recite in unison. The man repeats exactly the same refrain every ten minutes or so, the palms of his hands resting flat on the table, as an obedient schoolboy might do, sitting up with straight back. He's not agitated but calm and concentrated on his ritual, looking into the distance. 

I thought he might go up to other people who enter the cafe and shake their hands but he doesn't. I seem to be the only one he chose for that gesture.

Obviously the man has mental problems. I feel enormous compassion, almost affection for him. I imagine the reasons why he ended up like this - perhaps he was beaten in school or at home for not keeping up with the others... or perhaps... There's no way I can know his story. I wish I could give him a hug but that might not be what he needs. I don't do anything at all.

A rage overwhelms me about those parents or other adults who abuse children in so many ways, unaware or not caring that they may be wrecking their lives forever. Those mothers or fathers I often see in supermarkets slapping and shouting and berating their little kid for some minor misdemeanor, or for nothing at all.

By the time I finish my coffee and sandwich the man is gone. I'll never know his story. But he did shake my hand.

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7 August 2017

BIRTHDAY

Born at midnight on this date long long ago in some distant galaxy.

Birthday Nat 2017

6 August 2017

MORE AUTO AND BIO

Another short update to the autobio. I'm just going to keep adding to it in small chunks like this rather than wait until I've got many more pages.

Painting in T's kitchen

Painting in T's kitchen

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31 July 2017

AUTOBIO UPDATE

Have added part 25 to the autobio and also altered parts 21-22. There's so much editing to do and so much digging into the pile of old diaries, photos etc. that I can only proceed at snail pace and in short installments.

One of the difficulties is to decide how confessional to be and I'm hopeless at making up my mind about this. How to be a censor/editor of one's own life? Any advice from you writers out there?

There are links to each installment on the starting page so you can click on wherever you left off, if you've been there before:

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21 July 2017

I'm working slowly on updating the autobio. But meanwhile, nuggets of poem-like things suddenly pop into my head. I might or might not illustrate them. Here's the latest.

HEART BRAKE

That one
wears his heart on his heart
like a badge.
It says
THIS IS NOT A HEART.

But if you believe it
and turn away
the badge stabs
its sword
into his heart
and he cries.

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19 July 2017

STOLEN FLOWERS

You gotta love a man
who brings you flowers
little white ones
snipped from a neighbour's hedge
with nail scissors
he carries for this purpose.
A passing taxi driver
saw him doing it
and he was ashamed.
You gotta love a man
like that.

stolen flowers

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18 July 2017

INTERNET CRASH

Internet connection went down for nearly 48 hours and it was like having a limb cut off.

No it wasn't. That's a wild and foolish exaggeration. It was a damned nuisance and of course I assumed it was all my fault, my computer's fault, and everything was going to crash. Moreover there was spectacular thunder and lightning last night.

So I backed up everything to my external hard drive, just in case apocalypse was at hand. Hard drives survive apocalypses, right?

Back to normal now.

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16 July 2017

HELLO

Natalie 17 July 2017

Some sounds I made can be heard here.

And some moving pictures, already posted before, are assembled here.
A non-sequitur occurred to me. Here it is, for want of something more relevant.

INS and OUTS

When couples break up
it's often because of an in
or a whole list of ins
for example:

Infidelity
Inequality
Inattention
Insensitivity
Incomprehension
Inflexibility
Intolerance
Insecurity
In-laws


And when they look for a new love
they simply delete the ins
so their wish list
looks like this:

Fidelity
Equality
Attention
Sensitivity
Comprehension
Flexibility
Tolerance
Security
Optional in-laws

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15 July 2017

MORE POETS

On Thursday night upstairs at the City Pride pub Katy Evans-Bush and friends celebrated the launch of her truly marvellous poetry pamphlet Broken Cities. She is one of the winners of this year's Poetry Business competition and Astrid Alben and John Clegg joined her to read from their own new work.

I was happy to be there and to meet a few faces I'd only seen on Facebook. Unfortunately the roar of trains outside the pub window blurred my already dodgy hearing and I had put the aids away because wearing them makes the world invade my head like Genghis Khan's army.

Never mind - I read the poems live on the page and the poets' voice spoke to me.
And I took some photos.

City Pride pub

Katy Evans-Bush 13 July 2017

Katy Evans-Bush

John Clegg

Astrid Alben

Tom Deveson in foreground..Don't know the others' names.

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12 July 2017

POETS AT PHOENICIA

Ramshackle, unpretentious, seriously attentive ambiance and audience at the legendary Torriano Meeting House on 9th July. Grateful to have been theret to hear my friends and colleagues, excellent poets Dick Jones and Dave Bonta, reading from their respective books: Ice Mountain by Dave Bonta and Ancient Lights by Dick Jones.

Their publisher is Phoenicia, created, animated and independently run by my good friends writer-artist Beth Adams and photographer Jonathan Sa'adah from their studio in Montreal.

Dick Jones at Torriano

Dave Bonta at Torriano

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6 July 2017

PAST LIFE AND PLANT LIFE

Echeveria cactus

Today at a local garden centre, surrounded with beautifully chattering plant life, a tiny moon-coloured cactus type of thing humbly asked for my attention. It was named, the label said, Echevaria which sounds Paraguayan and reminds me of Mexico and I love the pale moon colour and it was only £3.99 and weighs almost nothing so I took it home. I can only offer it a kitchen windowsill but I think it will be happy.

I'm taking up my online autobiography again after a very long hiatus and hope to have a least another chapter up very soon. If anyone wants to browse previous installments of The Burial of Mickey Mouse, they're here.

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01 July 2017

BACK TO FRONT

Natalie 01 July 2017

Writing backwards is not as easy at it looks.

Neither is the fact that you only ever see yourself backwards.

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