Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I remember reading once, maybe it was a haiku or a Chinese proverb, I don't know. Anyway, the gist of it was that it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. Hmmmm...unless we can replace distance with time and therefore speak of a metaphorical journey towards Christmas and the usual childhood anti-climax involving socks and selection boxes, I think we can safely say our oriental chappy was a few grains short of a full bowl or had travelled to some pretty gruesome places in his time.

For myself, unless I am actually driving or journeying on water, the travel holds little fascination and arriving is all. Moreover, I have never, ever travelled without hope and this time will be no exception. And yet, this will be such a weird journey and each emotion I feel will be balanced by one which, if not exactly equal, is most certainly opposite. Paradox whichever which way.

In a very real sense, I'm going home. Where I belong and where I was destined to be. There will be an ease, a comfort and a familiarity yet at the same time a sense of dislocation. Not immense, no. Maybe just as if everything has suddenly moved one molecule's width to the right. Subtle, but a change all the same. I shall be full of hope, yes...and my doubts will soon subside. I shall be me and yet more and less than me. I shall be filled and yet will have emptied myself of all I have. I shall regret not doing this sooner and still know that this is the only time it could have happened. I shall recognise the language and yet some of the message will be hard to interpret. Nothing will change and yet nothing will ever be the same again.

Knowing all this, I shall place one foot in front of the other tomorrow morning. Deliberately. With forethought. I go because I desire it. I go because I must. And I go because this is where my life has led me. And I travel with hope, yes. How could I not?

There will be much laughter and a few tears. And that which has been apart for too long will be together again. And I shall use many names. Each shall have its own power. And its own weight. Its own magic. And they will issue from my lips. In my voice. With my love.

I am an extremely lucky man. And I am very content.


RogerB seems awfully concerned that, at my current rate of weight loss, there is some danger of my disappearing along with the bath water and he would appreciate an up-date. So, ever sensitive to the requirements of my readers, here you go, Rog.

No danger at all...14 1/2 kilos (32 lbs) so far and, along with the loss, some redistribution of inches from the abdomen to the upper torso.

I think I would wedge, dear heart.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

DAY 17

Not much when weighed against 30 odd years of nicotine abuse, 't is true but a fair chunk viewed from where I'm sitting and, as the biggest battle so far would seem to be trying to prevent myself from fitting a similar description, maybe sitting is not the best option right now.

It has been borne upon me quite forcibly over the past days that the body's immense capacity for self-repair and regeneration is matched only by the mind's power to cajole, persuade, delude and otherwise wheedle the nicotine free brain into believing that all its requirements would best be met as a result of ingesting a whole heap of pasta balanced precariously on a steaming ciabatta and washing it all down with a bottle or three of Belgium's finest. A carbo-hydrate induced sugar rush in other words.

I feel a little history might be in order here. For a long time and leading up to March of this year there was a certain, shall we say, strain in my life of which it might surprise you to know, I was largely unaware. If I were to transcribe my state into current psycho-babble, it would probably best be rendered as 'in denial'...and yes, without so much as a paddle and certainly no felucca. Keeping the lid on. Keeping up appearances. However you wish to term it, the result was, not to put too fine a point on it, fucking horrendous. Suicide by spoon, glass and cigarette lighter basically. I was over in England for the Everton match in March and I would let this photograph of that day stand as much more eloquent testimony than anything I can write.

Aye, the blob I saw here was not the man I saw in the mirror every morning...another demonstration of the mind's powers of delusion if ever there was. And I was not the only one to see it either, a fact for which I shall be eternally grateful. Anyway, pretences were discarded and certain truths long hidden were faced and finally admitted. And suddenly everything changed. And if it took my attempting to turn myself into a grosser version of Mr Blobby, then I can only be thankful the felucca sailed into view when it did and hauled me aboard, puffing and panting, for some kind of refit.

And yes...that was the key. Fit. What I most decidedly was not. Suddenly discovering that life had a point again rather demanded that I be in such a condition as to be able to live it. And the only way I had ever been able to do that before was by working out. I found the multi-gym again, buried under bags and boxes of empty beer bottles in the conservatory and, one Thursday morning, I set to. And on the same day, through no kind of planning or tactical decision whatsoever, I cut the crap out of my diet. I lost over 22lbs in five weeks. Still technically overweight but no longer obese. Surprisingly easy it was too. And then, during the course of a late night conversation with the Shoe a decision was made to give up smoking on the following Monday. Just like that. I rather thought I would cut down over the few, maybe four or five, days of smoking I had left and thus make the actual moment of quitting easier. I should have known better. Sometimes my self awareness can best be described as shaky. Anyway, by the time 4 o'clock on Monday morning rolled around, I had done my best to smoke myself into a stupor and I didn't enjoy my very last cigarette at all.

And since that last gasper...I have lost not another ounce of weight nor had a moment's peace from the yearnings of my brain for carbo-bloody-hydrates. I think over the entire 17 days, I've only actually craved a cigarette maybe twice as I momentarily lost perspective driving over life's speed bumps as it were and that hollow feeling in the pit of the stomach just cried out for a blue Rizla wrapped around a good pinch of Drum mild. I doubt I will ever smoke again now. But most of the time, it's the call of chocolate...of a cheese and onion sandwich...of a bowl of Nestlé's Clusters...of fruit absolutely clarted in natural yoghurt and honey. I am told that mammals are not meant to feel full as we have to be ready for flight at a moment's notice...and that my body is not designed for the intake of the carbs I crave. I am also reliably informed that if I wish to continue with the weight loss, I shall have to shock my body with an even stiffer regimen. As this would seem to involve the intake of only a half litre of non-sparkling mineral water and a stick of asparagus six times a day, there is a pretty fucking good chance of your correspondent deciding he can get used to his present shape for a wee while anyway. And hey...I even went swimming today. One hour. Non-stop. Now all I have to do is figure out how not to become completely obsessive about it. Well, that and how not to so easily give in to my daughter's desire to photograph her 'new daddy'...

...especially when I'm wearing those bloody boxers.