Duvet Maria

Have you ever had a duvet day? I highly recommend them if you’re feeling out of sorts. Whether it’s physical or emotional, if you’re not actually ill enough to take to your bed but you can’t face business as usual, just grab your duvet, snuggle up on the sofa and put on some DVD’s. It’s good for what ails ya.

If I could, I’d have a duvet day today as I’m not feeling one hundred per cent fantastic. To be blunt, I’m feeling a bit crap. I had a rough night; woke around two and wrestled with some horrible emotions before drifting back to an unsatisfactory sleep around 4 (I imagine.)

Where does all this stuff come from? When I was in a yoga ashram they used to talk about karma a lot and sometimes people would say in bewilderment, ‘Where does it all come from?’ Life, like history, is just one damned thing after another; just when you think you’ve got it sorted, along comes another problem. It’s a bummer.

Well there you go. Sometimes a duvet day is called for and today I shall be having mine. I feel a Harry Potter movie coming on…

Hope you’re enjoying the short story serial.

Kirk out

The Deserving Poor

At the moment I am in the library sneaking an illicit grape from under the table and waiting for a text from a certain relative of mine.  For some reason when I meet this person she is always late; either through not remembering the time we were supposed to meet or some unforeseen calamity occurring – in this case the bus not turning up – but she didn’t text me until ten minutes after the time we were supposed to meet!  With some people communication is damn-near impossible; they either don’t get your texts or their phone’s on the blink or it’s lost or stolen or the bus breaks down or they fall over and break their leg etc etc etc – but it’s always something you can’t blame them for.  And so you end up extremely irritated with them but with nowhere to vent that irritation because it’s not their fault.

I can’t help thinking that some people just seem to attract trouble.  And how is that?  Why is that?  How does it happen?

For example: in the kitchen some people seem to manage to keep delicate glasses, fine china, exquisite crockery; they use it and it survives for years.  And yet in our house everything breaks.  Why is that?  Are we especially clumsy?  I’m not aware of it, but maybe we are.  Mark has had a succession of glass cafetieres like this one:


and none of them has survived more than a year.  Even when we are really, consciously careful, they still break.  Of course, in the old house we could just blame it on the lack of space in the kitchen, but now we can’t and still his latest one has been broken after a year.  It makes you wonder whether it’s worth it, but it’s still his favourite method of delivering coffee.  We’ve got one like this that works on the hob:


but it’s kinda slow and messy.

First world problems.  Right.

OK, let’s get to something real then.  I want to pose this question: how far can a person be said to be responsible for – or to attract – things that happen to them?

This is a conundrum.  It’s one thing to believe in karma; it’s another to blame a person for getting run down in the street – or worse, for being abused as a child.  By the same token, you would also suggest that an extremely wealthy person deserves their wealth and consequently that the poor deserve to be poor.  This is of course abhorrent – and yet I can’t help thinking that there’s some nugget of truth buried deep within.

I wrote all that yesterday in the library; didn’t get around to uploading it.  So, today I shall be mostly… going to Riverside Festival and thence to Andy and Lynne’s house for dinner.

Have a good day!

Kirk out

Who are you? And who am I?

As I mentioned the other day, Mark is trying to lose weight.  He’s nearly down to his target of 70kg – that’s between 11 and 12 stone in real money I think – and he commented today that counting calories is like capitalism.

‘How is it like capitalism?’ I said, in a do-please-enlighten-me tone of voice.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘you know the comment about capitalists knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing?’

‘Wasn’t that George Bernard Shaw?’ I said.

‘Either him or Emelda Marcos,’ he replied.*

‘Mm.  Anyway, how is that like dieting?’

‘When you’re dieting you know the calorific value of everything but the nutritional worth of nothing.’

I hate to say it, but he’s right.  I hate counting calories; it just makes you obsessed with what you can and can’t eat and what portion size you should have and all sorts of crap like that.  Still, I guess it depends on your personality type.  And that’s another obsession of Mark’s; he keeps trying to get me to do an enneagram.  This sounds to me like a telegram sung by an Irish woman; but in fact it’s some kind of personality test.


I don’t really have much interest in doing one, since I think I already have a fairly clear idea of what my personality is like, and this would be just one more thing to get my head around.  But it set me thinking about theories of personality and what my theory actually is.  I guess it’s a mish-mash really: bits of Freud, smatterings of karma, a hint of Myers-Briggs


and more than a dollop of genes.

Whereas in my parents’ day you were defined much more by class and gender; and there’s nothing in this world more tedious than people behaving according to prescribed class and gender roles.  Whereas in America they have much more of a ‘you are who you choose to be’ ethic.  But how much of our behaviour today is conditioned by social norms?

*We were both wrong.  It was Oscar Wilde:


I’ll leave you with that thought.

Kirk out


(Cold) Snap, Crackle and Pop

And as this frankly ridiculous weather continues (O jet stream, how have we offended thee?  Return to us, we pray!) I am reminded of Madrid, where one piece of folk wisdom about the weather was: ‘Nine months of winter, three months of hell’.  In Spanish it sounds much better because their word for winter – invierno – is only one letter different from infierno, or hell.  In fact that’s not particularly accurate for Madrid, which has three months of winter and three months of hell whilst spring and autumn tend to be mild and wet.  April is the nicest month; May is a delight, and by June it’s starting to get uncomfortably hot.  But back to Britain, if we must, where the forecast seems to be nine months of winter and three months of rain.  – but sadly, weather forecasts are a lot better now than they used to be, so we don’t have the comfort of saying ‘Oh, I bet they’ve got it all wrong again.  You’ll see – we’ll have sunshine tomorrow.’  Still, I don’t approach the confidence in the weather forecasters that one woman had years ago.  She was talking to her friend at a bus stop; rain had been forecast – but not for a day or two – and it was now drizzling.

‘Course, this en’t the proper rain,’ she said confidingly to her friend, ‘this is just condensation.’

I had to stifle a snort of laughter at that one.

But!  Lo and behold me, yesterday afternoon, exiting the house in my usual clobber: coat, hat, gloves etc – only to return and shed my outer garments and walk down the street in jeans and jumper!  Not only that but on my return I was able to fetch a folding chair and sit out the front of our house, which faces due West, and enjoy the sunshine.


Then again, what about the astrological weather?  Like any teenager I used to read my horoscope avidly and wonder who the new boy might be who was going to smile at me that week – but of course, they hardly ever came true: predicting the future is a notoriously tricky business, as Dumbledore once observed to Harry Potter.


However, though the predictions might be way off, I haven’t been able to avoid a sneaking feeling that astrology has something to say about character.  Why this should be I do not know: how can a distant constellation which happened to be overhead at the time of your birth, have anything to do with who you are as a person?  To quote Edmund in King Lear, ‘I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardising.’


(line 442 onwards)

On the other hand, maybe it’s like chaos theory – far-off bodies influencing things close to, and vice versa: I can’t help thinking that the character of a Gemini as I have seen it described, says something about me.

What do you think?  Do you identify with the characteristics of your star-sign?

Kirk out

Draught and Thought

There was a good second session of Drink and Think at the Ale Wagon last night on the topic of Free Will vs Determinism.  The group seemed to veer towards the determinism end of the scale, whether through a belief in genetic determinism, or in what I might sum up as ‘a combination of Sod’s Law and circumstances’.  However, at our end of the table we tended towards a belief that we have a spiritual dimension, and that free will predominates – though not exclusively – that we have a more than just a little ‘wiggle room’ within that combination of genes and circumstances and whatever else constrains us.  The subject has huge implications for any legal system, and we discussed some of these as, clearly there is no point and no justice in punishing people if they have no free will.

But hey, we can’t help it.


We also touched on the area of talent and levels of competence; and what happens in the mind when we are unconsciously competent and can seem to ‘go beyond’ ordinary consciousness into a state which I would define as meditation.

And that brings me to an area which we didn’t discuss, which is karma.  Many people identify karma with fate, ie something that happens to you and which you cannot alter.  My view – and the general yoga view – is almost the direct opposite of this: that karma is what you are given (or, if you believe in reincarnation, what your previous lives have given you) precisely in order that you may do something with it.  And that ‘doing something with it’ is in essence what you are here for.  In other words, your karma exists precisely in order for you to change it – or at the very least, to work on it.
One thing we did discuss – and in connection with which we might have quoted Hamlet:
‘there’s nothing either good nor bad,
but thinking makes it so’
– was the importance of perception; in other words, that a situation can be transformed by your perception of it.  Facts remain facts, but their meaning is changed according to who is looking.  So that, for example, the Gaza strip is an entirely different place to an Israeli and a Palestinian.  There wasn’t time to develop this idea very far but I’m a great believer in the power of visualisation to bring about change.  Even if it’s only a change in how I feel about a situation, that in itself is a huge advantage – as I was saying the other day about the person who moans continually about not having a car and then gets one, thereby finding a whole new stratum of things to moan about.
It’s the attitude that counts.  I firmly believe that.
Here endeth the lesson.
Today I shall be mostly… sharpening up some poems and getting a couple of other pieces ready to send off.
Kirk out