Pink pants, red herrings and life’s work

(or: More than my job’s worth, part 2)

The snickett where the pants lay.

Some weeks ago I made a decision. Except that it wasn’t me that was making the decision, I thought, it was the pants. They had been lying there, in the path, for probably more than a year. It’s a muddy, narrow path between hedge and houses; the route to school that I walk with my son every morning. A dozen parents had casually side-stepped the pants a thousand times apiece, perhaps not noticing them, perhaps embarrassed; but surely all, like me, wondering secretly: whose were they? How had they fallen off? Were they missed? Surely someone should pick them up. Should I pick them up?

Yet month in, month out, they lay there, unloved and ignored, covered in turn by summer dust, autumn leaves and winter snowfalls, exposed after every wind or thaw to reveal an ever more crumpled, downtrodden repose, their pinkness struggling to be heard beneath the deepening coating of mud and algae.

The day I decided to pick them up would be the day my life would change, I thought. The pants had called me. And if you respond to the call, the pants are yours. (more…)


More than my job’s worth

Cublicle lifeI’ve been thinking about jobs lately. For a while I even thought I should try to get one, freelance writing work having dwindled so dramatically. Admittedly, opportunities to work as a newsletter editor abound. Each that I have seen, however, pays precisely nothing. How droll, that when I am at last presented with an opportunity to use the longest word in the English dictionary, it is to describe the trade to which I have devoted half my working life, in conceding that the job of editor has succumbed to floccinaucinihilipilification.

But, enough levity. (more…)

On belonging

As this placeless world spreads, and as progress is increasingly defined as the ability to look out of a hotel window in any city and see the same neon-lit corporate logos, the most radical thing to do is to belong. To belong to a place, a piece of land, a community – to know it and to be prepared to defend it.
Paul Kingsnorth, 2004

I’ve been wondering about belonging. What is it? Is it important? Where can we get some? How do we hold on to it?Home

A decade ago I returned with my young family to live in the area where I had enjoyed my happiest childhood days.

I refamiliarised myself with the landscape, the trees and plants and birds and rivers, in all their colour and variety. I took the plunge into community activism. I made and renewed good friends in the area. It is a welcoming and beautiful place to live; I feel lucky to be here and generally content.

Yet I’ve rarely enjoyed a deep feeling of belonging. In my gloomier moments I can feel adrift, struggling to find any point of reference. (more…)

View from the inflection point

Greetings, dear reader (if there’s one out there). The time between posts is growing, a sign that the end grows nigh for Vivid, but I don’t yet have the heart to pull the plug. For one thing, I have one more exposition to get off my chest, promised months ago and very nearly ripe for delivery (it’s been a long gestation).

For another, I can’t resist the temptation to chip in and comment one last time on the state of affairs in the big wide world. (more…)

Update: new blog showing my nerdy side

This is a short note to anyone interested in permaculture or sustainable food production (I know there’s at least one out there!) to flag up another blog I’ve started, documenting my permaculture journey. It won’t be of interest to everyone but if you like pretty pictures of lettuces and straw bale buildings it might be for you!

Find it at Slow Worm.

Meanderings on belonging will be the subject of my next Vivid article, in the pipeline now.

The loops of eternity vs The loops of never coming back

All thoughts now are with the people of Japan as they bow to the terrifying might of mother nature and the folly of man; and to the people of the Middle East as they face down brutal oppression.

But I promised I’d come back with tales of vivid things and at such times as these of fear and change perhaps vivid things are needed most of all.

It didn’t actually take me nine months to find those things; the delay has been due to other commitments and a winter go-slow. Thank you for coming back. (more…)

Oops, I accidentally wrote my first poem

There I was, putting the finishing touches to a long-overdue post … when suddenly a poem came to mind.

It’s pretty cheesy since I bashed it out in an hour and I haven’t written poetry before. Well, not since I was about 12.

But what the hell: the worst that can happen is that everyone thinks one of my sons has hijacked my WordPress account. I’ll stick it here — if only to broadcast the message that Vivid is alive! The ‘proper’ post will follow this short intermission … (more…)