Monday, 26 March 2012

Two Sides of One Page

This is a note, with instructions on a bath panel, enlarge the picture to read it detailing things like small nails ... clawhammer ... keep pressure on uprights ... retaining screws ... after painting ... insulation ... silicon ...

And already written on the other side of the paper was this ...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

How very Google


This is not the big G's headquarters. It is where I work two days a week. All very idyllic. And inside's pretty good too.

The two engines of Arc Publications are Tony Ward and Angela Jarman, who have been working together on the press for over 16 years (although Tony set up the press 40 years). Both are over sixty. And it's a delight to work with people who have such a long view on publishing and working practices. It reminds me too, of that quip - stay in one place long enough and you eventually become fashionable. Put another way: progressive is really just old school, in new trousers.

For example, lunchtimes. Instead of all heading out to buy sandwiches, or eating homemade packed lunches at our desks, one of us makes a soup. Which we all down tools and share for three quarters of an hour, or so, and chat about stuff we've seen, heard, read or done, or chew over some work-related gristle (less often it has to be said). You know, relax. Buy some headspace on whatever's happened that morning. Get a perspective. Re-energise ourselves. Remember there is more to each of us than being a member of staff. That we have other lives, pasts and imaginations. It's almost like a Friday night drink every day, without the alcohol.

Invariably it's the afternoons when things really motor, ideas cement and fly. And it doesn't even seem to matter what flavour soup, they're all hot.

Monday, 12 March 2012

More Flotsam

This time half a mile to the south, I found a trunk too large to carry back, even for two. Days later it’d been battered so hard against the seawall it was broken in half. I fetched the wheelbarrow, wheeled it along the seawall’s embankment and set it at the top of the embankment to then spend almost an hour rolling half the trunk up the wall to the barrow. Upended I could drop it onto the barrow. It was heavy. The metre-long trunk rolled awkwardly across the lip of the barrow. I decided to cut a third off my journey home by crossing the field rather than taking the corner round the seawall.

I hadn’t considered the mud. The cow hoof-ruts. The trunk must have fallen off the barrow into mud seven or eight times by the time I got part way home. I was muddy. My arms ached. The sky a blank grey above me. I drew more mud from the field. The wheelbarrow’s wheel thickened with mud. The tree slithered in mud. I could have cried mud. I wrote my name in mud on the bark. Mine. Hands off. And left the trunk, the barrow and all their accumulated mud to wade across the field to fetch help.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Driftwood. Woodness

Michael Haslam wrote a poetry collection A Cure for Woodness. I'm not ready to believe there is a viable cure. Especially not in winter. Woodness and winter are as intwined as darkness and winter. Winter winds throw up dead wood most tides.

One low water, a morning last month a trunk appeared about quarter of a mile out on the saltmarsh. I hopped a way over to it to remember that classic rule: small = far away. It was huge. A big dead tree trunk, perhaps two and half metres long. Its branches had been ripped from the trunk, its bark too, so it was smoothly unidentifiable to me. Still, too heavy to roll over itself. Too big to carry back, and the saltmarsh is too boggy, too pocked with ditches, to wheel a barrow over it.

The subsequent days I watched it wash closer to solid land, fretting someone else would see it and claim it. Every car held a potential woodsnatcher. Every morning I’d check it was still there, lying in opposing angles to its previous position in the tufted grass. It didn't get any lighter. The saltmarsh no flatter for a barrow.

Ten days since my first sighting, I had help to fetch it back. It was gone. Wail. Stolen from beneath me. At least a week's worth of heat, maybe a fortnight. I'd seen it first. Been watching it like some creature out of Aesop. I had a territorial right to it. It was mine. I scoured the marsh for people hauling trees, for cars high-tailing out of sight. Then I saw it, all two and a half metres long, its massive girth. Tucked under the seawall, metres from the door. My cure for woodness? More wood.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Sea Facts

A third of the CO2 humans are putting into the atmosphere has entered the ocean.

80% of the extra heat being created by climate change has been absorbed by the ocean

About 250 million years ago the ocean's oxygen ran out. More than 90% of the species alive then, died.

Plankton produce half the oxygen we breathe.

For the vast majority of the earth's 4.5 billion year history the ocean was the only place in which there was life.

Early stage foetuses depend on amniotic fluid that is a chemical replica of the marine world.

*These come from Alanna Mitchell's Seasick (Oneworld Publications, 2009)