A Microadventure in the Hills

Around 9 months ago I had my first solo in the hills which I’ve wanted to write about for ages and is still very clear in my mind.

The forecast said it would be windy. 50mph winds that night, to be precise.

I headed south to the Peak District late afternoon, for an evening out in the hills. I wanted to test out my new bivvy bag and stove which I had just splashed out on, plus I had never wild camped on my own before. I wanted to make it special so I chose to go somewhere close to the city but also far enough to feel away from it.

I decided to stop for fish and chips and a pint of ale in the pub in Edale before heading up the hill. I was stuffed as I set out, carrying far too much food inside me to enjoy the first hour of walking. At least I knew I wouldn’t need to eat for a while.

I was travelling light and just had a couple of breakfast things, including one of those preserved packet puddings; a magical silver packet of ‘adventure food’, a chocolate cake in chocolate sauce, which cost me a few quid on ebay and which I knew would be delicious when the time came to use it.

Hiking up the trail and towards dusk I passed other hikers coming back from their day out, feeling a bit naughty as I thought they probably knew what I was up to – off camping in the hills. I hiked uphill for a couple of hours until I walked along the rocky edge of a bleak, boggy, flat terrain, with some amazing rock formations, seeing the occasional small bird but holding out for a kite or some other bird of prey. I later learned that gamekeepers actively ‘preserve’ that part of the Peak District exclusively for grouse shooting, shooting the endangered kite to keep grouse numbers up.

Once I reached the western edge I was blown away by the sight; the whole of Manchester spread out on a plateau below me. I was just below cloud level, about 600 metres, and the looming, blue grey clouds filtered the setting sun. Shafts of bright orange sunlight struck the city here and there like sheet lazer. I could see planes flying around within these shafts as they went in to land. It was dramatic and surreal and beautiful.

On I hiked as it darkened, looking for a good place to stay. A sudden thundering roar sent a shockwave through me as a massive Aer Lingus jet flew right over my head. Momentarily, like the caveman who thought the sky was falling on his head, I was awestruck but then just annoyed, and I made my way along the windy (as in twisty), windy (as in the blowy thing) trail towards my eventual camping spot.

The wind had really picked up by then and I was being buffeted around as I progressed, feeling a bit concerned.

Soon I was being blasted and even walking was becoming tricky so found a big rock to shelter behind. I dropped my bag and wandered on to find a more sheltered spot. It felt great to run about in the high wind like a fool, letting it chuck me this way and that.

I found a large rock and decided it would provide ample shelter, with the added bonus of a soft, grassy mound next to it. I returned on the blowy track for my bag and when I got settled I made myself a cup of tea on my new stove, read a few pages of ‘Sky Above, Earth Below‘ and made camp. Camp consisted of a bivvy bag with my sleeping mat and sleeping bag inside. I had high hopes of some good, quiet shelter and a sound night’s sleep.

A couple of hours of struggling with my sleeping bag and bivvy later, the wind found me, catching whatever loose piece of bivvy material, so it could flap it in my face and wherever it wanted to, basically. I also realised that I was slowly sliding away down this grassy mound and away from my sheltered rock. I got up to put on every layer I carried with me including waterproof trousers, jacket and hat as the wind and then rain battered me throughout the night. I eventually found comfort with my head almost completely under the rock, propped up on my backpack, and a couple of hours of blissful sleep with my hat pulled down over my eyes and nose to keep my face warm.

I awoke shortly after dawn, the wind had abated slightly but was still going for it. I decided to pack up quickly, no time for tea, and set off walking back in a somewhat circular route. I was tired but exhilarated that I had survived a wild night of weather at 600 metres and actually managed to grab some sleep too.

As I walked I felt fantastic and the freedom of the mountain was with me. I knew there could be nobody else stupid enough to be up there and so I had it all to myself. Then , I saw what looked like a plume of smoke heading up into the air a few hundred metres ahead. I then wondered who else could have been stupid enough to have done what I did and I decided I needed to meet them. As I neared it began to look a little different and presently I realised that it was in fact water. A waterfall was being blown back up the cliff and into the air so it resembled smoke. It was enjoyable to watch.

As I began to head inland on to the moory top, I saw bilberries growing and felt rejuvinated after a couple of handfuls of their bright, tangy flavour. I took my time picking them and revelled in their juicy goodness, filling me with new life. As I continued I saw the sandy bottom of a stream and my imagination was caught. Here I was, at 600m and it was sandy. Immediately I imagined myself walking along a sandy, rocky beach,  looking out onto a vast sea below where the city lay. The moorland in front was forested and full of creatures. I felt a sadness, and as I began to find a way across the boggy land, I felt the barrenness of it and what I could only see as the tragedy of its current state.

Walking through squashy moorland I wondered at the relevance and importance of the corrugated plastic dividers which had been added here and there, I guessed with some goal of peat bog preservation or water retention – I couldn’t see what it was doing apart from polluting the already sad looking landscape. It looked neglected and depressed. The rain poured down as trudged through ankle deep wetlands, my rubbish hiking boots let water in and at times I felt I would never come out of this wet wasteland.

Soon after, I began to ascend and squelched my way back to Edale with a spring in my step, so happy to have hiked a couple of hours before 8am.

I drove a couple of miles to find coffee, which the kind person let me off 20p of the price for, and the I remembered the magical sliver chocolate pudding pouch in my bag. I opened it up as the car widows began to steam, and I regarded its delicate chocolate colour and inviting, saucy dressing. This, along with my coffee made a perfect, post wild camping refreshment. First bite and….UGH! It was grim and horrible and tasted less of chocolate than a packet of spongy bog fodder would have. I felt cheated but I also laughed aloud at my own foolishness to have put such a high expectation on something which anyone could have told me would be crap. I didn’t even finish it and that’s saying something for me.

Overall it was a great microadventure and an amazing first experience of wild camping. It did make me thing a lot about my nature connection and the wasted, almost empty land, deforested for agriculture, which we now try and preserve in its current state. I can’t help feeling that through well intentioned preservation, we are interfering in the natural recovery of places such as the peak district, now ‘perserved’ for hunting.

A Microadventure in the Hills

Golden Oriole

I caught a flash
this morning,
did not dare do a double take.
eyes pursued quick flight
from oak to oak.

The song: sweet, loud, tropical; sure.

Dawn light showed
brilliant bright yellow bird body.
Its possibility only shared yesterday,
as if it called ahead.

A quick ruffle through
pages to identify
what faulty sight grubbed

That must be it.

Today, confirmation of agreed fact
made a man
smugly reassured that
others bestowed a name
which he now knows,
excluding all other possibility

Golden Oriole

What’s the point of Adventure?

I just read an article by the ace Alastair Humphreys where he encourages people to do a good thing when they plan an adventure, like raise money for charity or raise awareness for environmental causes, etc.

This article really struck a chord. Since going on my one and only adventure last year my life has changed in a really positive way. The adventure itself was worthwhile but the fundraising made it real. I probably wouldn’t have done it otherwise and I don’t particularly feel motivated to do another (which is a bit puzzling, actually), mainly because I don’t have a solid reason to. Am I lacking in motivation for crazy thrills and experiences? I don’t know!

I did my adventure pretty much alone so didn’t really get a ticket into the adventure world doing through it. But, to me that’s a world of fancy, expensive gear and looking cool.

However, I REALLY want to do another adventure and raise another chunk of money for charity or raise awareness for a brilliant cause. THAT really motivates me. Getting out into nature really inspires me. I’m not sure of the next steps, however. I’m a bit short on ideas, maybe.

Big adventures on the cheap and for a good cause. Otherwise it’s vanity.

Do you agree?



What’s the point of Adventure?

Slow Journey of the Scree

Crossing the river in sturdy boots was easier than barefoot, which I did the previous time to save myself a soaking.

The rain passes, the ground is damp and the clay soil surface is slippery. We head upstream to see where best to tackle the steep bit from. Following a tributary, a clearing opens up. We stop and stare, reminded of a scene from prehistory – no sign of buildings or even that people had been there. Fallen trees are strewn around the river bed and there are no signs of the careful intervention of humans as large, horizontal tree carcasses lay roughly stacked to head height against the trunks of those trees still standing around the river bed, conjuring up scenes of deadly torrents, like a false memory that feels real.

At first this brings on an idea of neglect, as if people aren’t looking after it properly. The ‘mess’ makes me think about how we like to control; clearing and cleaning. Keeping our interests unclogged and free flowing.  After a while it dawns on me that this is the natural state of things, that not everything is manicured and controlled in order to flow the way we want. The river makes its own course.

When we find the way up to where the rocky scramble begins we’re excited, the river’s chuckle dies away, we pick our way up through the rocks, one behind the other. It’s pretty obvious that this is rarely traversed by any large creature; chunky rocks, delicately balanced, tumble down the hill with the slightest tug. We quickly change formation from line to side by side to avoid broken bones. These loose rocks feel unusual, almost as if the landscape is falling apart. They are lumpy, volcanic rock, ready to roll. I begin to feel our presence as a disturbance, a form of vandalism,  but then the feeling that we are witnessing something beautiful begins to fade into view in my mind and take over.

Movement is apparent, the rocks are on the go. I get a sense of drift, different to anything I could measure; the slow work going on here in nature. The rocks flow. All is motion and by dislodging these delicately poised rocks a story is released. It takes seconds for a single rock to roll, dislodged down the slope but for that rock to take a more natural course could take hundreds of years. The land imparts its idea of time, taking great care to show us what’s possible. To me this is slowness and purposelessness; pure potential. Anything could happen. The slow journey of the scree is full of wisdom, something to tune into, to learn from.

We come across an old, overgrown settlement. A still visible road, now tree lined and crossed, tails off away from where we’re going. The forest feels homely and serene, mosses absorbing our words, giving the place a comforting, indoor feel. Tall young ash trees take our eyes straight up to the newly leaved canopy. A soft green roof and a cushy carpet invite us to talk about camping out.

Time speeds up again and we’re at the next challenge. Picking our way though crumbling rock faces, heavy walking boots and rain soaked cliffs a slippery combination, so we choose a less vertical place to ascend. Then we climb and suddenly the going is steep with nothing but clumpy grass and a few rocks to hold on to. One way up so we’re in line, me at the front. I’m suddenly hit with the seriousness of leading, especially with so many loose rocks around. My focus increases to a point where I am 100% cautious; each hand and foothold has to be certain, every rock tested thoroughly. As we reach the top, taking a wild boar track through bushes and under branches for the last part, thoughts start to return. The feeling of how focus clears the mind of unnecessary thoughts makes me want more as we reach the treeline and start to chat again, with a bit of a new buzz, now walking through an open field and back towards the trees.



Slow Journey of the Scree

The Art of Relaxation

I’m pretty good at looking after my valuable stuff.

The other day I went to London and from there up to the Lake District, where I attended the first part of my Guide Training course with Way of Nature.

I stayed with Beth’s bro and his wife in London and, as usual, had a lovely time. I left their house and got the tube, paying from my change-heavy pocket.

When I went to pay for some treats at a lovely organic shop near Euston station, I couldn’t find my wallet. I ended up having to put all the goods back on the counter and walk outside to empty both my backpacks onto the footpath. I looked in every pocket twice – three times, digging my hands deeper in, in case I’d missed something. My wallet was gone.

I slowly repacked my bag feeling pretty flat but I also knew I would meet some fellow course attendees on the train who would sort me out. I called the tube people and the bank to report it and tramped on to the train. The wallet had £80 cash, my bank cards, driving licence and some Euros in it. Fortunately my train ticket was on an App.

While on the journey to the Lakes I had great conversation, food and fun and when I got there I jumped in Coniston lake to help me forget about it. While I was down there I spotted a round something out of the corner of my eye – it turned out to be a penny, from 1978. It was exactly the same colour as its surroundings which made me think it had been there a long time. It made me think of Beth as it had Elizabeth on it and Beth was born in ’78. I felt that this penny was something for me to hold on to for the weekend.

There was a great feeling of fun and camaraderie about the Guide Training. We had a day of practice and teachings and conversation on Friday which ended in us each going out into the wild hills above for a 14 hour ‘mini solo’. This meant taking our tents or whatever, with us up the hill, finding a spot, camping alone, without food, without speaking; mainly being in reflection.

We had had some practices shared with us the previous day and they could come in useful to help ground us in the situation. I wasn’t feeling so good though. As Friday progressed I was feeling not really part of it, and like these practices (Qi Gong and presence practicing) were just a load of hippy shit and not going to help me, despite really enjoying them that morning, having had that feeling of relaxation and like something good was happening for me. I found the teachings hard to relate to and judged them to be not useful for me. I’m not sure what I was looking for.

I took all the doubt about this ‘new thing’ up the hill with me on my solo. Lost like my wallet or cancelled like my bank cards, I felt a bit pissed off with my situation but also I had a bit of a knowing that I was doing the right thing for me.

I love the challenge of wild camping, being alone for long periods and, although it’s not the most comfortable situation to be in, I know there is something happening for me in those moments.

I settled down amongst the sheep droppings, heather, bilberry bushes and moss, feeling supported by the landscape and ready for a new experience. Facing east, the arc of the hill behind me advanced over the land, slowly turning the moor-like landscape to shadow. I had a nibble on the plants to see how they tasted and feel more at home. I watched, wondering about time, about how I would survive the next hours, about how slowly the sun sets when I watch the shadow move, how a minute can feel like an hour when waiting for the shadow of the hill to reach the trees. And by the time the last of the shadows had retreated along the landscape, light meeting dark, a bright orange, sun reflecting plane flew across my sky, giving me a last look at the brilliant sunset I had just witnessed. This led me to look up to the nearly full moon directly in front, beaming its presence, its apparently unmoving, solid light catching my wonder. And I had time to wonder.

I was cold and not very comfortable but that was sometimes part of the wild camp.

I looked at the shadow on the moon and wondered how, if the sun has just set, how the light and shadow on the moon stay pretty much the same all night. I imagined a much slower sunset, of the Earth on the moon, an Earthset, creating that shadow. I couldn’t figure it out but I certainly was amazed at the hugeness of it all. I had time to watch, tucked up in my sleeping bag, inside my bivvy bag, sitting on the mossy, grassy ground.

As it darkened I lay back and retreated into my bivvy. The cold began to seep in, and as the hours passed I added extra layers; socks, hoodie and eventually got my sleeping mat out as the ground beneath chilled me. My sleep was restless, going between chill and moon bother. I would wake from a pleasant slumber only to remember where I was, and the physical challenge of being there would dawn on me each time I awoke. A slight dread. I would have a quick look at the sky and the moon, by this time almost too bright to look at, was still in my face. Some hours later I woke to the shadow of the moon casting an arc, just as the sun had earlier and I felt I could finally rest.

Next time I came to, the sky in front was an azure blue with a flat belt of burnt orange pressing down on the horizon.

I opened my eyes again and the sun was fully up. I had survived. I looked at my clock. 6.45. Still 3 hours before I needed to pack up and leave. What would I do for 3 hours?!

I sat up and immediately began a half hour meditation, surrendering to the brightness of the sun and allowing it to sink into me. I don’t meditate much but this felt great, I was really drawn by the sunlight and I made a choice to be there with it and appreciate it for what it is; that amazing centre without which we simply would not be alive. I became calm and felt that this intimate time with the sun was just what I needed. Breaking out of my sleeping/bivvy bag coccoon and pulling off my socks, I stood barefoot and went into Qi Gong and other practices I had learned, trying everything out which might help relax me into the enjoyment of that moment.

And it worked.

And I was free, and in full appreciation of what was before me. This stunning day had dawned, showing me how to feel closer to myself and how to be there with it. I didn’t have to be anywhere else, I had no family expectations in that moment, I was nothing but just there. I felt a presence, a power from within. I was calm and at peace, loving being barefoot, and I really didn’t want to put my massive hiking boots back on to head back down the hill to camp. I decided to try walking without socks and boots, slowly picking my way through the soft, squelchy, boggy ground to the crackly, broken bracken and beyond. Every step was measured and it felt amazing. Then I got to the rocky path and slowly walked barefoot over that until I reached camp feeling blissful and serene. I had made peace with my resistance to what is or may be happening, through nature connection. I had let down my guard and stopped judging myself and the moment. I had finally relaxed and let go.

48 hours later I’m on a delayed train, making my way to Gatwick airport, slowly coming round to the idea that I may miss my flight back home and be ‘stranded’ in London. And I did miss my flight. And the next flight wouldn’t be until Wednesday. And I was letting all sorts of people down by not making it on time. Or was I?

Yesterday, I learned some distinctions. I learned that I am not to blame for my circumstances, although I am responsible for them. I learned that even if people feel that I am lettting them down or doing things differently to how they would, that is entirely not my problem, although I do have responsibility within that. I learned to trust circumstances, not fight them and see opportunities to be friendly and open towards people of worrying and feeling bad about losing my wallet and having to spend more on flights and trains. And I learned to accept the generosity of others without question or resistance.

That money, I now realise, was an investment. I bought myself the opportunity to deepen my acceptance of circumstances, to have a happier, lighter conection with those around me, I bought the time and space to be creative and trust that life will keep bringing me great things.

The only way I will keep evolving is if I give myself the space to do so.

Thanks for reading

The Art of Relaxation

My Trouble with The Troubles. Ireland, England and Everything in Between

Coming from Ireland I grew up with ‘The Troubles’.

Well, I kind of did.

I grew up watching reports of the violence on TV, Haughey and Thatcher, the Birmingham 6 and the Guildford 4. I remember feeling a great injustice at how these innocent people suffered for so long. It was all on the TV, though I was about as far away in Ireland as you could get from ‘The North’, as we called it. I grew up on the windy, rugged south west coast. I felt very removed from the Troubles but I think part of me felt guilty about what was going on; I in my country idyll, with my cushy life, watching from afar.

I came to England one week before the Manchester bombing, in 1996. Interesting timing. When I moved to Manchester that September, I wasn’t treated other than with a very welcoming attitude, with the occasional “are you from Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland?” I had never heard of Southern Ireland before that, it used to make me chuckle. “I’m from Ireland”, I would reply. And this wasn’t because I had some lofty dream of a united Ireland. To me ‘Ireland’ and ‘The North’ were two very different places. In fact, I could say that I brought disdain towards The North with me to England. I’m not sure where that came from, whether it was the culture, the news, or just something I decided upon myself, but thinking or talking about The North was never an easy thing to do.

There was a barman in the local pub I used to go to in Oldham who used to call me ‘bombchucker’, but he was always just having the craic. Someone I used to work with at Rochdale Council when I was a groundskeeper said: “Top of the morning to ya”, EVERY morning for 3 years, and I was known to him and my coworkers as Paddy McGinty. It kind of felt like he didn’t really know what to make of me and he did it to make himself feel more at ease. I was an outsider to him and the others and I was fine with that. To be completely honest, after the first few times, it didn’t bother me. I remember getting caught up in it and feeling sorry for myself once or twice but I soon got over that. I just smiled and laughed along and it wasn’t a problem. People were still nice and friendly and I felt accepted. I learned, in those days that we are the same species and we can’t help but find similarities – it’s almost impossible not to.

We were of course raised with our own version of history and oppression and in Ireland, the long battle fought and civil war and bad political decisions and Paisley and Gerry Adams – all that, and the Troubles were a confusing crescendo to all those centuries of grief – a version of history I wanted to forget about. So when the peace treaty was signed I did forget about it all.

Recently, there was a FB post going around. It was a photo of some bombed out buildings in London in 1993. There was some writing over the photo which said “This is London in 1993 after an IRA truck bomb. We didn’t ban Irish people or Catholics, we understood it was just a small group of cunts”. It was posted in relation to some other current political events. A good friend of mine posted it and that’s how I came across it.

I ignored it at first but as it kept popping up in my news feed with more ‘likes’ every time, I started to get a bit annoyed, wondering who these people were who had such a short term view of history, thinking ‘how dare they?!’ and rattling off a whole number of reasons to be upset about it. So I wrote a comment, trying to stay calm and balanced, stating what I felt, without it (I thought) coming across as bitter or coming from an angry place.

I don’t think I did a very good job, because I whatever I wrote would have come across something like “how bloody dare you, don’t you know anything about what we went through? How could 600 years of oppression be reduced to a ‘small group of cunts'”. The more I thought about it the more wrong it felt.

But…I did have an inkling that there was no malice intended, and it was meant as a simple example, but the other voice kept coming back in with the hurt and the injustice. After a while my friend even felt that he had to apologise to me and I STILL kept on with the ‘you don’t understand’ mantra, blaring in my head. I tried desperately to be ‘friendly’ and understanding, but my hurt was calling the shots and I didn’t know how to stop it.

Then, something unexpected happened. Someone else piped up on the thread. She wrote about how she had felt the same emotional trigger I did when she saw the photo and talked about how old wounds can take a long time to heal and how it probably wasn’t meant to be taken like that. I suddenly stopped.

She, I knew was from Northern Ireland, and in that moment I felt a hand reach out to me. I immediately took that hand and it was like I had woken up from a weird dream; the kind of dream that feels uncomfortable when you’re in it and relieved when it’s over. Something powerful happened in that snippet of time, and with her support, I was able to gain immediate perspective. I imagined what she’d been through and how strong she was to step in, in that moment. I don’t think anyone else, from anywhere else could have made that happen at that particular time.

I felt my hurt in a way I never had before. I was surprised and puzzled, then accepted it as mine.

Today, I came to understand myself a bit better. I never was aware that I carried bitterness, guilt and hurt around with me as part of my identity, but there it was, just under the surface. Today, I remembered the Bombchucker and the Paddy McGinty and then the disdain, mistrust, bitterness and grief I took on whilst growing up. And when I saw it, I realised the depth to which those feelings ran and how they may influence decisions I make in my every day.

Now I see it, I can see how I hold myself back from trusting and respecting people, and all of this, only 10 days before I leave this country I have spent more than half my life in. It’s not every day I have that kind of realisation.

All it took was some friends to help me see it.

Time to let it go. Feel the grief and let it go…

Thank you England

My Trouble with The Troubles. Ireland, England and Everything in Between

Trainspotting 2 (spun off)

I take my cues from my youth. The rambling ideas of place and time and age.

Trainspotting 2 was all about what happened 20 years ago, some nostalgia, some indifference. An interesting look at both.

There were 2 other people in the cinema. One of them happened to be a next door neighbour from 10 years ago who I hadn’t seen since we left almost 9 years ago.

As the film ended, I was gripped by a sense of nostalgia, which rose up. Was that because I am now old enough to have such vivid nostalgia that it happened?! In any case when I put the 20 years I had been in the UK together with the 20 years since the first ‘Trainspotting’, along with almost a decade since I saw our old neighbour I got into some kind of nostalgia coma.

As I used to see myself, within the tangle of thoughts pertaining to place, I felt proud. I felt happy that to be part of ‘that’, whatever ‘that’ is. The idea that, 20 years ago, as a young guy, watching that film, feeling the awe and disgust and knowing that this kind of world existed and that people went about their lives in such a way, was something I had no idea about, growing up in a rural place.

When I came to know Britain better, with her deep, complex cultural nuances and prides and unmentionables, I felt I belonged.

Growing up in Ireland I saw division. North and South, Ireland and England, Kerry and the rest of Ireland. Lispole from Dingle, from the Gaeltacht. Then one family from another, then people within families from each other. Then me. Tortured, awkward me. Divided.

Trainspotting helped me see that which unites also divides. Now that I’m more aware of the sectarian state of Scotland and further, the separateness of three countries stuck together on one island, three cultures not quite able to really get along, and Ireland next door, still divided and angry and suffering and feeling the hurt.

I always wanted to belong and I didn’t realise, as a child, that we are all doing our own thing. I fought a personal ‘war against the world’, where I stood my ground and attached myself to what felt familiar and ‘true’. I always wanted to change the world. But I also wanted desperately to belong, and feel accepted and loved for everything I was and was not. I wanted things to be different. I was dissatisfied and unhappy and thought that the world was to blame. I thought my environment made me unhappy.

Sometimes a change of scene is needed to gain perspective.

This morning I heard the blackbird and the robin at dawn, almost in competition with each other. I pondered the relationship between them what makes them friends or enemies, or indifferent. Their relationship to place, as territorial as ours. Then a crow, caws its way around, telling me it has this place as its domain. Each bird knows its place and generally will not mess with another species. It’s down to size and physical power, but something else as well. Their worlds collide but they generally just get on with it and let the other be.

It took me a long time to learn that I am responsible for my own happiness and I can’t try to influence the happiness of another. A real game changer for me. I came to this realisation late, after decades of self pity and blame, of nostalgia for a time when things may have been ok for me. I fought with the world and found no peace. I distrusted and felt betrayed. I judged and assumed and felt judged.

And I blamed. Religion, capitalism, advertising (I hated advertising with a passion from a young age), science, nature, gods, devils, films, music, food, health, pollution, war; everything that gave me a reason to be different from others. Endless reasons.

Each one of us is a complex of values and beliefs, a potential landfill site for generations of rubbish tipped. We inherit the site, keep dumping more rubbish on top until we have forgotten about the living soil that lies underneath. Down the line somebody takes on sifting through the shit and and endless number of layers appears underneath. It could take generations to get through!

Feeling nostalgic at that film helped me see the folly of nostalgia, the idea which states that which was, is somehow better than what now is. That my beliefs somehow separate me from others rather than unite me. Youth is better that age. “Those were the days” and such similar bullshit. it’s a fucking trap which leads to deeper traps within the landfill-mire which often houses my thoughts.

And in the same moment I can also say that this is what makes us beautiful. I guess if it didn’t we probably wouldn’t survive. Our diversity of opinion, action and belief and our ability to communicate all of these things. Our ability to argue and see others’ points of view. And our ability to drop everything and get on with it together when something more important turns up.

And I’m happy with that contradiction, I’m happy to be proven wrong for my beliefs because, ultimately, there is no right and wrong; we’re just making it up as we go along.

I remember many years ago when I lived with my uncle, a roman catholic priest, for three years and we would have deep discussions about our relationship with life and with the world. I was always chasing ‘the answer’, and he would point out to me that there was no ‘answer’, that we’re in this mess together and it’s about love.

When I now look at myself as a child I can see the ‘landfill’ my culture was built upon and wonder what brought that about. That division and lack of empathy, that wringing out of human values and  connection in pursuit of survival through making money, perhaps. That ‘enslavement’ of peasants, which suppressed the human spirit; ‘every man for himself’. Every western culture, and possibly every human culture has its own version of that story.  That little boy who saw beauty and desperately wanted to share that and be open, ended up dejected and disappointed.

But that beauty is always there. The man I now am just needs to reconnect with it.

The world will never be the same. There is no place for nostalgia.


Trainspotting 2 (spun off)