Friday, April 27, 2007


Thanks to the Marvin Gaye Day over at the Shoe yesterday, I've been kinda thrust back into my teenage years and also a bit of a, well...not reappraisal exactly but at least a new awareness.

These were my rock years, you understand...before John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra just blew the fuck out of any attempts at categorisation and opened up new avenues for me to explore.

And yes...they may have been the rock years but there were also what I might call radio days...a soundtrack I would have preferred to think I was too studiously cynical to enjoy. From this distance it amuses me to recognise I was just too much of a prat.

And it also surprises me just how fresh the memories are and how deeply these songs have burrowed...the Drifters, Sam Cooke...the lyrics just there, at my recall. Under the Boardwalk, Saturday Night at the Movies, for Sentimental Reasons, Wonderful World...all there.

And then, just when I think I've remembered everything and there is nowhere else to go...I find this. And am speechless.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I woke up at 07:32 this morning. Got up, had a piss, said hi to the family, realised that this was me under advisement and, as me never gets up at 07:32, promptly returned to bed for what seemed like a wonderfully long and nicotine craving free doze. Oh...eight...fucking...thirty...four. Well, sod it. It's 09:14 and two coffees later now. And maybe I'm a little the wiser and perhaps just a shade alarmed.

I remember much of yesterday being taken up with the thought of just what non-smokers do to pass the time. I mean, they must do something, right? Compulsive nose-picking? Arse scratching? Nobody can possibly be content with, doing fucking nothing...can they?

Anyway, I began to wonder just what it was I had done when I didn't smoke and well...just what is it that 14 year old boys do? So what then did I use to do when I didn't smoke so much? The only thing I could come up with here was, "I had classes". Either that or I'd run out of money. No...more accurately, that should read, "we'd run out"...smoking was very much a collective endeavour in those days. Me...Stephen Feather...John Harrison...names which, even today, have as a major part of their associations for me, the red and gold of a packet of Gold Leaf (Virginia) cigarettes.

And so, my dear, you might say I've had Virginia in my blood for quite some time.

And, in the balance, my age of innocence + 3 days weighed against just how many pounds of tobacco product? There's no fucking wonder I don't know what to do with myself.

And yet, 3 days in and I guess I'm surprised. Not at how easy it seems, no. But maybe at the fact that right now, it doesn't seem as impossible as I'd thought.

I haven't lost control. I have remained, reasonably, equable.
I haven't had any headaches, yet.
I can still sleep and even nap.
And I have the distinct feeling that, "Aye. I am driving this fucking bus." which is pretty neat.

Okay, there is a restlessness and yes, I do have to get up from time to time and go unscrew the cap off a bottle of mineral water and yes, there is a sense that something is missing and yes, there is a general...craving.

But I am surprised at the non-specific nature of this craving. I have no conception whatsoever that it will only be satisfied and assuaged by an inhalation of tobacco smoke. I guess my brain has registered the sudden lack of direct nicotine hit but the signals it is sending tell me only of a need...maybe I could shut them up with chocolate...or one of those yummy pizzas.

I can see how people associate stopping smoking with weight gain...give in to these, well...what can I call them? Substitutes? Anyway, give into them and I will be a blob and I'm not going back there again. No, my dear. Not there.

And why is it that I am mostly underwhelmed at the size and difficulty of the challenge so far? Well, it might well be true that the worst is indeed to come and what I have felt up to now are just the preliminary skirmishes of a much greater battle. Yes, it could be. But I doubt it.

I started working out again after much longer than I care to remember. I cut out all the crap from my diet and, as a result of both, have lost a stone and a half in five weeks. These two things alone constitute something of a minor miracle so why should stopping smoking be any the harder? In all of this there has been a focus and a sure knowledge that I am not now and never will be, alone. Thank you.

And now...well, I’ve given my body long enough to adjust to this new reality. I’m going to pump some fucking iron.

Monday, April 23, 2007


I would just like to take this opportunity to place on record the fact that I have just now, at this very minute, smoked my last cigarette.

And may the gods have mercy on us all.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Yup, it's that time of year again when the apple tree just explodes into bloom and, at least here anyway, I get my first hint of the hot and humid summer days to come. But right's perfect. All that's missing is a snirk and a mint julep or three.

And, whatever it is that is causing the collapse of bee colonies all over Europe and the States, it hasn't made it over here yet. Pollination continues apace and, come the Autumn, we will have another bumper crop. There's nothing quite like walking out of your own door, plucking an apple off the tree and crunching into it as you walk along the path to your gate.

Altogether now...don't sit under the apple tree...

Friday, April 20, 2007


When people ask me why it is that I value football above all other sports I usually mumble something about possibilities and poetry, vainly trying to pin down and put into words that sense of infinite potentiality a player has with the ball at his feet and the sheer beauty and rightness of a well worked move. Rugby can sometimes come close but the ball is less mobile and its distribution more restricted. There is a grace and athleticism inherent in football that simply cannot be matched by any other sporting discipline.

Now, you may rejoinder that watching Crewe against Gillingham on a wet Tuesday night in November is highly unlikely to result in your witnessing anything remotely approaching the poetic or indeed the graceful and you would probably be entirely correct. And yet, it is that...possibility again, no matter how remote, that you might just witness something like this which draws you back again and again. And you'll be able to tell your grandchildren that, "Yes. I was there".

Sunday, April 15, 2007


There are days, whole weeks that’s not right...I don’t tend to measure time quite like that. Especially when I think about my life. I have the year of my birth and then everything after that is recalled as a period, referenced maybe by its contents or perhaps as a before or as an after...after I left school...just before my father died. And sometimes by a mood. A general undercurrent of melancholy in my blue period.

So let’s just say that there are times, periods when one feels in some very elemental way, attuned. When you resonate with the world and your waves synchronise and amplify.

You’ll be driving and suddenly realise that the traffic is flowing for you alone. You’ll pull up to park and the woman just pulling away beside you will wind down her window and hand over her only partly used ticket. You’ll walk into the post office with such natural timing that the only person at the counter moves away as you arrive.

You might even walk into a garden full of strangers and within seconds find yourself completely at ease and at the centre of everything. It is also perfectly possible that you will leap up onto the raised patio with a grace and fluidity you thought yourself long incapable of and find yourself in flirty conversation with the grandmother of the house, refusing all her offers of scones and cakes with the easy assurance that comes from having teased the laughter out of her.

Maybe it’s just a perception...some kind of projection of an inner...attunement and yes, I can live with that. My own pieces and puzzles and some of the...bumps in my life have fallen into place or been placed in a truer perspective and I feel happier in my own skin at this point than I have ever felt in any other...period. An after period for sure. But also a before. And maybe it is the simple fact that I know that which has brought me so much joy. That and feeling whole for the first time.

Hell, I can’t help it if it shows. And maybe it is indeed, contagious.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Along with so much else you gave me was a gentle reminder to sweep the cobwebs away from this blog. I think I can be trusted with the duster now. We'll see.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. So many tomorrows. But only one that counts.

Anyway, this is for *You*. From *Me*.