Saturday 30 November 2013

Positive mental attitude

I’m not normally known for being a rampant optimist and the recent ‘kickings’ have seen me deep in despair at times. But I’ve come through them and I’m now feeling so positive.

I won’t go into detail now but this week a couple of good things have happened that have made me realise that actually I’m pretty bloody good at much of what I do. It’s filled me with a new found confidence, a confidence to face the future head on. I’m on the up. I’m moving forward. I refuse to stay down!

The previous post was actually written about a week ago. It's all true, I am like that. I suffer from the cringe and no doubt always will. It's managing it that is the key. As you can see I’ve travelled a long way in a week. It pays to hang on in there.

Learning to cringe again

I lack personal confidence and have low self-esteem. If I ever reveal this to people who don’t know me that well they find it hard to believe. I’m also a very shy person. Plus I have the added handicap of blushing profusely and often for no reason. Occasionally I will blush for other people; in other words when others are in a situation that calls for blushing and they fail to do so I will blush for them. I’m a proxy blusher. I also worry a lot. I could worry for England. Olympic gold standard me.

People I meet don’t always recognise this picture of me, but then all they see is the exterior. I am like the proverbial duck. On the face of it I’m the serene gliding on the water. They never notice the feet below furiously paddling to keep going.

I’ve never been good with rejection, even though I’ve had my fair share of it. And the past few weeks have been quite a shock to the system. My confidence has been dented big-time. Strangely my reaction to rejection or tragedy is often different to many people. I give the appearance of reacting in an opposite way to being upset. I appear on the surface to be happy or devil-may-care but it’s a defence mechanism. I have been known to laugh at bad news. Its not that I find it funny, I just can’t help myself. I also have a tendency to say stuff that I don’t always mean. Verbiage is broadcast before brain is engaged. I then regret what I’ve said and want to crawl away and hide under a stone. Enter ‘the cringe’. Throughout my life I’ve said some spectacular foot in mouth things.

I once heard Desmond Morris say that people who blush are survivors. Blushing is a survival technique dating back to the very beginnings of our evolution. I buy that. It makes sense to me. I’ve survived pretty well so far.

So my strategy is to surround myself with a hard shell to protect this soft nut inside. My fear is that if I weaken I go under; we’ll call it ‘stiff upper lip’ syndrome.

I am the walnut, goo goo goo joob

please note: It's important to read the next post as well

Monday 25 November 2013

The fog is lifting

For the first time since I learned that I was being made redundant I feel that I’m in a better place emotionally. My outlook is starting to be a bit more positive. This is quite unusual for me.

I suppose I’m more fortunate than many in that I don’t feel that I have to find a job at a certain level. Within reason any job (if I can find one) will do. I now see redundancy as potential freedom. All my life I have harboured a desire to create; to paint, to draw, to write; all my life I’ve allowed life to get in the way and stop me from immersing myself in my art. Now there will be nothing to stop me. Yes I will need to find some kind of employment but that’ll be all I’ll need, some kind of employment.

The other thing is that I won’t be tied down necessarily to where I live. Looking for inspiration I could well go off and live elsewhere. How liberating is that?

I’m not pretending that it’s all going to be a bed of roses. I have no doubt that I won’t get everything I want. There will be things I’ll need to do without but I’m going to set myself free.

I think the most exciting thing is that I’ve no idea where my life is going to go. All I know is that it’s going to change. I need to harness that change and use it as a catalyst for a more interesting life. I will have doubts, and I will have panics but I can see that my life could well be enriched by it.

As one door closes, another one opens.

Friday 22 November 2013

No. 85. Sausage Rolls.

"Procure a quartern of dough from the baker's, knead this with four ounces of butter, dripping, or chopped suet; divide it into twelve equal parts, and use each piece of paste to enfold a beef sausage in it; place these rolls on a baking-tin, and bake them in the oven for about twenty minutes or half an hour."

From: A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes by Charles Elmé Francatelli

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Tip toe

I hope upon hope that once I am made redundant I can find other employment. I fear for the future. I can’t see that, at my age, I’ll be able to earn what I have been earning. I will probably have to take a much lower paid job. But regardless of any future salary I am determined to live my life in a simple and frugal way. I very much want to reduce my material footprint.

All the fun of the fair

Life is like being on a rollercoaster at the moment; a mixture of a few highs and a great many dramatic lows. Work is so painful now as I know I’m going to be without a job but don’t actually know at the moment when I’ll leave. I am feeling terribly misunderstood.

Emotionally I am more often than not at low ebb. I am finding it hard to concentrate on anything for long.

On the occasions I’m feeling up or optimistic it rarely lasts as something happens or someone does something to put the dampener on life.

I so want to move forward.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Scrapheap challenge

When we were told at the beginning of last week that the branch of the company I work for was closing it really didn’t come as any surprise to any of us. It had sort of been on the cards for quite a while. In fact for me it came as a relief. When you have something like that hanging over you it’s often good to have the certain imminent truth rather than a speculative possibility. Others did not take it in quite such a sanguine way.

The next day and reality set in. the emotions of it and of life brought me down to earth with a bump. I went into a deep decline. Life seemed pointless; nobody loved me, everybody hated me, so to speak. I was preparing myself to go down the garden to eat worms. I’m not good with rejection, especially when I feel that rejection is unjustified. On the scrap heap at 58!

Its 41 years since I left school and not once have I been registered unemployed. There was a brief period in my earlier days when I had three weeks off when I was between jobs but apart from that I’ve been a wage slave all of the time.

I’m scared. I’m scared for my future and I’m sad for my colleagues that are also losing their jobs, some of whom I know will suffer quite badly financially. But I’m coming to terms with it. I now see it as an opportunity, albeit not necessarily an easy opportunity. I’m hoping it will afford me the opportunity to be more creative and perhaps find employment in a different sphere, and perhaps even in a different location. I’ve never overly been fearful of change and it could well make life much more interesting. I’ve come to realise that material wealth is not the be all and end all of life. There is more to life than trinkets.

I’m coming to terms with the soon to be ‘bereft of employment’ situation. My future path is a stony one, but compared with many persecuted souls it will hopefully be no great hardship either. I’ll keep you posted.

Friday 8 November 2013

War is murder

#peace Please RT: 
I could never contemplate killing another human being, and I would never wish for someone else to commit such a barbaric act on my behalf.

In my book anything other than pacifism is morally repugnant. To someone of a religious disposition it is the ultimate blasphemy.

Sunday 3 November 2013

My name is Paul and I am a Jeremy Deller addict

Well, possibly...

Is doing two Jeremy Deller exhibitions in two different countries in two weeks a little fanatical?

Who can say?

All I know is that they’ve both been very enjoyable and very inspirational.

We’ve just arrived back from a week in Venice, where for two consecutive days we visited the Biennale. The Biennale is an international art exhibition. Or should that be exposition?

All of the countries taking part in the Biennale have their own pavilion where they mount their own particular exhibition for the season. The ‘curator’ for the British pavilion this year was Jeremy Deller. His show was entitled, rather oddly, English Magic.

I’m not going to offer you a critique or even try and explain what the exhibition is about in any depth as that would just be pretentious nonsense. I will offer you some of my thoughts about my impressions and how I feel towards it, but remember they are just my thoughts. And, also remember that art is only ever in the eye of the beholder. Art has no quality or benchmark; therefore no one can tell you what is good or bad art. Those definitions just don’t exist.

As you walk into the exhibition you are greeted by a huge mural of a giant hen harrier clutching a Range Rover in its talons; nature getting its own back on the bourgeoisie so to speak. A fabulous image, I hope you agree:

I’ve only known of the existence of Jeremy Deller for just under two years. I saw him interviewed on telly prior to his Joy In People exhibition last year (which we subsequently visited). I liked his thoughts and approach to art; they rang true to my beliefs. His art is plebeian (and I don’t use that in an insulting way, I use it as praise), he definitely draws from and connects with the common people, the working classes. He also draws a lot on pop culture, sharing very similar reference point to my own even though he is a younger man than I by some eleven years. And hey, anyone that likes Bowie and Depeche Mode can’t be all that bad!

One of the nicest touches to the exhibition was the tea room where mugs of very nice ‘proper’ tea were handed out gratis. The lady and I availed ourselves of this facility as did so many other visitors, UK and non-UK citizens alike, all seemed glad to receive; British tax payers money very well spent in my humble opinion. When you consider what our country spends on armaments and waging war on others and how it achieves absolutely nothing, then realising that if a fraction of that money was spent on making tea and distributing it to other parts of the world and how that might well make the world a better place by fostering a bit of harmony, you wonder why such a thing isn’t happening; make tea not war should be Britain’s motto!

Included in the exhibition are paintings and drawings by prisoners spending time at ‘Her Majesties Pleasure’. Many of whom had served with the armed forces in Afghanistan and or Iraq. One very poignant picture which moved me greatly was ‘R and R: Soldiers smoking crack before deployment, Wellington Barracks, London’ by Neil, HML Shotts, 2013:

There are no winners in war!

I could go on and on about this exhibition, such was the pleasure it gave me, but I won’t. What I will do though is give you a link to the English Magic website so you can at least try to glean a bit of the flavour. Enjoy!

Two weeks prior to visiting Venice we were in Manchester, and whilst there we took the opportunity to go to the ‘All That Is Solid Melts Into Air’ exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery. Again a Jeremy Deller curated marvel. The exhibition is a presentation of industrial working life, the people and their culture. It mixes harrowing photos of Victorian working people along side family trees from Bryan Ferry, Neville Holder and Shaun Ryder and written examples of the oppressive nature of capitalist imposed working conditions, paintings and other artefacts. It shows the violence and oppression that has been inflicted on working people over the last few centuries and reminds us how it is still happening today.

The ‘badge’ for the exhibition is this photograph of Adrian Street and his father:

Included in the exhibition is a film about Adrian, his sexuality and how he escaped from working in the pits to seek fame and fortune in the, some would say, murky world of professional wrestling.

I came away from the gallery having much enjoyed the show and wondering why we working classes continue to allow our masters to dazzle us with trinkets whilst letting them shaft us at the same time.

In my opinion anything with Jeremy Deller’s name attached to it is always worth a gawp. Check him out and go along to an exhibition of his as and when you can. If you do I hope you get as much out of it as I have so far from the ones I’ve been to.

Art happens – enjoy – think – and deal with it!