Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What matters?




Life is full of incongruities. Order and chaos unite, not separate. Nature and structure is one and the same. We can walk among the trees or we can take a different path. We can toil or we can tether ourselves to the passage of others. It may be the journey that counts but there is no stipulation as to what journey. Each to their own. Each seeks the shade from different foliage and rests momentarily against their own place in the forest. Or we can choose to stay. While you are here, listen to the raindrops on the canopy above and the murmur of running water at your feet. This is where life is. This is where you are. Be at rest for just a moment. Just a moment.

December



Monsoon season has arrived. We all become rain watchers. BOM radar tells us where it is and how much, the anvils tower over the landscape, flashes of light creep across the clouds, and the sky goes through its borborygmus convulsions, sending children and dogs scurrying, uniting in safety under the dining room table.
I find peace in the rain. It's gentle disturbance is hypnotic, calming and spoken silently. The monsoon whispers, tempering the air and shedding its life blood to the waiting forests. The sheer heaviness of the air compresses the color into tones and textures so intense, one can only stand with effort, breathe with difficulty and walk with a lumbering cadence.
Bring on the rain.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Nothing is real.



I think therefore I am. Sounds good. Not so with photographs. We might confuse the real thing with the image. Looking at the real thing isn't the same as looking at the photograph. When we look at an image we sense the reality but we see the frame which is the boundary of that reality. Our thinking is limited by what we see. Reality involves a different level of interaction. Being there is not the same as seeing it on a print. Look at the photo as a small window into your own thoughts. Then, when you think of the image in that way you won't loose sense of your own reality.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The lament



I'll see this life out before I consider any other possibilities. The shadows creep in but hide little from me. This place is my tombstone. Nothing fancy, no profound inscription of forever love and remembrance. Just me under here, with the tools of trade and the barber as company while we smoke under the blue sky and dream of lust and distant lands, of fortunes buried in a misadventure and some aches and pains accompanying the scars of a sudden stop or a miscalculated path. Customs are gone, along with a nod of the hat and a hand shake. Not even a smile from a pretty girl or an inquisitive look from a child and his dog. Just suspicion and distance.
Its time to close the shop. My time, not theirs. No-one rides any more. Too busy. Too self-conscious. Today I'll walk home.

Beachfront residence



Buying a beachfront residence has its drawbacks. The tide, for one. There's a chance that you could go to bed one night and wake up with water lapping at the end of the bed, more so with the incoming tide of Global Warming. It's an even bet that the tourists might move in with their UV cream and an excessive exposure of skin to both the Sun and an unsuspecting local. Fortunately I chose wisely. My domain is safe from all of that. I'm high enough to avoid even the best (or worse) rise in ocean temperature. The water is full of crocs and other bities so that should keep the tourists off my doorstep. Now I can go to bed each night knowing that when I wake in the morning I can step out into my own back yard, safe in the knowledge that there are no snoopy neighbors watching me feeding the cat in my slippers and little else and I will always have a clear view of the turquoise sea just beyond my boundary.
Tonight I will sleep well.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sharing space



Our world finishes where others begin; just out of frame. Our attention and central vision provides us with an edited version of reality; a seemingly clear picture with some fuzziness at the edges. With that information gathered and processes, we believe we have a keen grasp of what we are as individuals as well as members of society. It's the clarity that matters, the sharpness of the image and the relevance to our beliefs and memories that matters most. But just beyond our frame is another reality; just as clear and concise, just as intact and demonstrative, just as unique. We cut off the fuzzy bits to focus on the precision yet it's that bleeding into black that brings us together. The essence of our humanity is curiosity and we seek knowledge of other people's worlds. They are strangers in a strange land, our land, intruding into the frame for a moment. Who are you? What do you want? For a moment they exist and become part of the experience of living and the continuity of memory.
And as quickly as they came, they move on, carrying their palpability beyond our vision.
The photograph holds the moment. The taking of the photograph is done in the hope that we can hold the moment, to share with others as well as the intruder. It's a recognition that we both exist and in the same place at the same time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On being alone....



Separating oneself from the crowd is difficult. It requires a mental state as well as a physical one. It requires taking a position that will distance you from the crowd, take you away from the game and separate you from the social clutter. It is best done on a warm Sunday afternoon in Spring, just after lunch. It is timely when the family has left and the dishes need washing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

On being alone



Most days I crave for a decent conversation. One I can understand, be a useful contributor, learn from, relate to. I want to ask questions and be asked. I want to be fascinated by new ideas and have my own ideas challenged. I want to hear of distant places, messages from home, something funny, dramatic and even just plain dull. I want to hear the sweet voice of excitement and the resonance of somber thought. I want to hear a new joke and not know when to laugh and an old joke and laugh too soon. I want to see the tears of joy and sorry and frustration as I hear about families and friends and enemies. I want to know what is new and what is news, to contemplate the future and analyze the past. How nice it would be to pause in mid-sentence, be interrupted or be lost for words, hear a raised voice or move close to a whisper, struggle with an accent or dialect and chuckle at the idiosyncrasies of slang. What I would give to have that.
Most days I spend alone.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Staring back #9



I often have the feeling, when taking photos, that I am being watched. The paraniod mentality I carry with me is my own doing. Pointing a camera is intrusive, secretive, invasive, impersonal and anti-social. It's no wonder people stare back with suspicion and hostility. I'd like to think we can share the space in between. That space doesn't seem to belong to anyone in particular. Maybe we can share it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Staring back #8



Staring back at the possibilities isn't always a good idea. Looking for another way might be fraught with problems and no solution. If you want some light shed onto the darkness, either flick the switch or open the blind. Either way will get a result. Staring at the alternatives will simply keep you in the dark for that much longer.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Staring Back #7



It's a dangerous place out there, among the rips and sharks, especially if you are a poor swimmer. But this is summer. We are expected to be foolish and carefree. Too much sun, too much food, swim out a little further each time, catch a bigger wave, swim outside the flags, occasionally staring back at the shore to see if anyone is noticing how brave you are. Risk is part of summer, of feeling good about yourself, of learning, of growing up and being just that much better that your little brother or keeping up with your big brother.
After all, we are all protected by a flapping yellow and red cloth on a stick.

Staring Back #6



Life isn't perfect. Far from it. It has its moments, mind you, when it seems that way, but only for some. And its nothing to do with what's out there. It's just how we stare back at it. We go about our business, sorting and reshuffling things, ideas, consequences, feelings and the change in our pockets. Every now and again we count it up and realize we just have enough to get by, to buy the paper or catch the bus or have a cuppa on the way to more shuffling and sorting. Its not the big moments that make life perfect, its the little ones, the expected ones, the repeatable ones, the normal ones. Its the times when you stare at life and it stares back and all is well, just for a moment.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Staring back #10



I'd like to find an analogy to life here, or at least some symbolism. For some of us there might well be such proximity to our wistful thoughts; a sense of beauty in life or eternal peace or tolerance or foreboding. Every day we can see life staring back at us in some form or other, telling us how it could be or should be; clich├ęs for greeting cards and small books found in the wellbeing section of all good books stores.
Today it's the smell of wheat and the comfort of daisies that stares back at me. I acknowledge them and move on, leaving it for someone else who might miss the pleasure of things.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Staring back #5



I'm not one to walk paths less trod - any more. Probably never was. The certainty of destination has always been a comfort, and familiar sights along the way, reassuring. Did I miss anything? Not that I noticed. You wouldn't, would you. The ground is firm beneath my feet, the view has been most satisfying and I'm quite content standing next to this tree having a pee, Just in case you asked. The rest have gone up ahead. They know the way and I'll keep them in sight else I might wander. You never know what is lurking in the forest.
Life must be dull if you don't take risks, I hear you say. Well, let me tell you! If that was dull then give me a risk free existence any time. And the path ahead? Nothing could be more exhilarating as long as I take notice and dream a little.
When life confronts me I want to be able to stare back with a smile.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Staring back #4



The photographer records the moment that took his interest, captured his imagination, or thought worthy of recording because it had some value to him. In doing that he also says as much in what he did not record; what went before and what is to follow. At this moment, all is as it is and has never been the same before, nor will ever be repeated yet in our consideration of the image we might well consider what led to this point and what is to follow. Some things are predicable, as with the ticking of the clock and the movement of the sun across the window. Others are not, as with the settling of the dust. Its the mix of the random and predicable that brought us here and generated in the photographer, the necessity to record it. The photograph can focus our attention and expand our view at the same time. All photographs do this. For better or worse, allow yourself the pleasure.

Staring back #3



There's no art here. Photography isn't art. There is no construct or composing. There are no rules nor does it have a language; a vocabulary that enables us to place things where we want them. We photograph what interests us. We consider that moment in time worthy of recording. Our camera records that diligently, without prejudice or or consideration for the photographer or viewer. And unless we montage we are stuck with the constrains of the frame and its graphical contents. Sure, we can shift around, play with colour and tones, and arm ourselves with sophisticated toys but we are still stuck with a tree, two benches and a rather large shrub staring back at us.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Staring back #2



Move along christians. This place has been re-allocated to a different group of believers.Don't feel too uncomfortable about it. They probably feel the same way. Its all the wrong shape, and there's no mats on the floor. Even the plumbing is in need of a revamp. Anyway, its your own fault. You let the place run down. I didn't see you attending the fairs and fundraisers. Christmas Christians. At least these blokes are serious about it; fervent even. Besides, the building will probably see them out. Next thing you know a Gen Y couple will move in and convert it to apartments for their Audi driving friends.
So, while you stare in amazement and shock at the New World, the stone and slate stares right back. Its been here longer than all of us and will still be here when we are gone.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Staring back #1



So it's come to this, has it. Christian, tucked away in an alley between the hair dresser and a car park. It's inevitable really and I'm not that surprised. After all you can't go around telling people to believe in one fairy and not another. And the guilt. It's like when you told your mother you washed you hands before dinner - and didn't. You were never sure if she knew you were lying.
They mean no harm, those Christians. They just need a place, like a smoker in a government building. Happy in there lot doing what they do among friends.
The buildings have nice windows, though.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

York.



They come so close and cross each others paths so briefly and so closely they can smell each others boot polish. They come and go to and from and always return. Anonymity, transported daily. Isolation in social interaction, an insular approach at a busy intersection. Separate lives.

Monumental strength.



There is always something we can put our faith in. Something with such strength that it could last for centuries, keep me comforted in moments of need, provide me with good advise and security when the world seems confusing, care for me when I'm low and give me spirit when the going gets tough. A place of peace and tranquility, rest and restitution, love and sharing, quiet and introspective, giving without taking, knowing what is best and right. I have all that right here.

The other thing in the picture is just a church.

Staring into space #22



Even when the world seems a bit claustrophobic, there is always room to move. Take a deep breathe. The air goes up quite a way. Chances are you'll get a good lungful, catch your breath and the walls won't feel like they are closing in on you.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Staring into space # 21



All things are not innately interesting. We wander the planet in search of interesting places, people and things. Meanwhile, we stare into space. Waiting. "It's boring" I hear again and again.
Be interested.
When you are interested in all things you can stare into space all day and be fascinated. Exclucivity in your interests denies you of an opportunity to be in constant wonder.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Staring into space #20



It's been a while since I last passed this way. The view has changed. I've changed. I'm tall enough to see over the hedge. The house on the hill seems closer than I remember. They have planted wheat again. I loved playing in the wheat, feeling the crunch of stalks under my shoes. And the smell. Like the cow sheds. Or the mattress I slept on.
I know my way from here as if I walked it yesterday. A steep climb to the gates, then a push through the brambles and nettles to the fence where I could follow to the house. Someone's dog would bark. In summer I could pick berries and watch bees suck nectar.
No point in going that way now. The house is gone and the memories are fading. I can still hear a dog barking. A reminder, maybe, that somethings never change.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Staring into space #19



The centre of my attention is my preference. It lasts for a second, then shifts, taking in what occupies the space I stare into. One moment it it the red of the post, the next it's the cyclist, then a moment later it is the book she is holding. Right now a story is underway. It had no beginning and will have no end. It's the gray between black and white, the sand between the tides, the sky between the storms, the quiet before the band plays. There is an intersection brought about by geography, time, purpose, movement, light and sound. Right now, the story continues to unfold. I am part of it, with my camera in hand. I can hold this story forever while it passes under the feet of those who are part of it.

Staring into space #18



It's all of our own making, you know. We came here in a flurry and a rush and most will leave quietly. We make an arbitrary count of how long we are here and expect more or less as if there is a finish line we expect to reach. We try to make a mark but usually its left to those who remain to do that for us. We didn't come from nor will we go to. What remains is the memory in those who still remain. If you hold any value to your time here, make the memories others hold good ones. Or at least interesting ones.

Staring into space #17



It may not be a matter of glass half full or half empty but a matter of how much we let in.
We can consider life as peripheral; fighting at the edge to get in and fill the space. As we age, we let more and more filter through and the conglomeration of accumulated experiences slowly rises until there is no more space to fill.
What then? We can fight off the intruders or we can build the barriers even higher, establish our defenses, and deny entry to all that dares to enter.
Or we can clear a little space for the new. Sweep out some of the old, useless and confusing. Welcome in something unusual, see the discomforts of the past in a new light, listen with new ears and see with new vision.
If you don't like it the way it is, then clear some space, revisit the old, make amends with the past and present. Out of the corner of your eye you may see something you missed.

Staring into space #16



Did I miss something here? There is value in staring blindly at what we didn't notice on first glance. The dull, mundane, ordinary places that hold no interest to the passer by. Then, after a while, the picture illuminates itself. Challenged by the nothingness of it all, the figures appear and the frame becomes the storybook once more. There is nothing else but to look in amazement and, if you have some way of recording it, do so.
"That picture does nothing for me" I hear the critic say.
"You had to be there" I answer. "You truly had to see it for yourself".

Staring into space #23



Just when I think I have this 'staring into space' gig all sorted along comes something to fill it. Mind you, I don't mind. On investigation, you'll find little difference between the wall and what is covering it, and I don't mean the sign. He's aging, balding, has a sense of humo
On the other hand he is an absolutely dedicated father, as smart as a whip, is troubled and puzzled by the world just like the rest of us and he is my Li'l Bother.
He's not really related at all. I found him attached to my sister in law when I married his sister in law. He came with the package, so to speak. He fills the space I stare at when I come to visit the UK.
I think it's OK these days to say I love this bloke. He's my shadow, the other end of the conversation, the next question, the last answer, the silence when I need it, the play when I have the energy, the right and left arm, the kitchen hand, the driver, the walking companion, the sharer of good and bad news, the comfort in the face of adversity, the joy in sharing.
He is my Li'l Brother. May he always fill the space I stare into.
r that has driven men to the wall, finds standing still a complete waste of time and dresses like he throw himself at the wardrobe.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Plaza



We all need a bit of tender loving care. A coat of paint, wash the windows, an new sign to point the way. Trouble is its never permanent. The winds of time wear away the new surface and the wrinkles once again show through. Still, a bit of shopping or a step back into a time zone long gone is always an option.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Staring into space #15



Others do it as well, I've noticed. I wonder what they are thinking, if at all. 'What are you thinking about?' I ask. 'Nothing really, just staring into space'.
What do we hope to find out there? The answer to a question, a new past, a predicable future, comfort from the crowd, memories of a friend?
The noise of the traffic and the chatter of the crowd fades. One hand warms the other, the eyes see new things, the ears are attuned to new melodies. The soft light of the days is brief and refreshing. It will pass, this moment and nothing will have changed but the craving to return will linger until lunch time.
We can shake loose from the fantasy but not from the feelings it brings.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Staring into space #14



I'm inclined to think we all need a sign to point out the bleeding obvious from time to time.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Staring into Space # 13



The space I leave behind fills quickly with detritus. I can hear the molecules moving first, fast and furious, to fill the vacuum in accordance with the Laws of Thermodynamics, Enthalpy and that age old Law of Vacant Space and Diminishing Surfaces which suggests any space created by men will be filled with important items once it has been cleaned by a woman and declared dust free.
What amazes me is what follows. I can't remember where most of it comes from or why I had it in the first place. I look around to see if any parts of me have fallen off. Has a dump truck passed this way and lost its load? Did someone move in when I wasn't looking?
Look around, gentlemen. Not too far away will be a small pile of fragments from you last activity. Close the door behind you as you leave. It will spread.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Staring into Space #12


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DSC5286, a photo by tom.dinning on Flickr.
2. Two what? Two doors? Two floors? Two rooms behind? I'm a patient man. I'll wait and see. I have nothing better to do. The doors stare back at me. Do they ask me to enter? Still no sign of life from beyond. I'm waiting, staring. Then I notice. I'm not there, in the reflection. I'm not staring back. My reflection has already entered. It waits for me to catch up. A bead of sweat runs into my eye. I hear a bell ring and the doors begin to open. I'm gone.

Staring into Space #11



What scares me is when I find myself looking back from the space in between. Like an intruder, I'm conscious of my existence and possible impact on the casual observer. I'm no longer alone. I have company. Not something dark and sinister, just a fleeting glance that will blow away in the next movement, creeping across the landscape in opposition to the rising sun. This part of me will leave no trace. I endeavor to do the same but the fatal flaw is gravity as I look down and see my footprints in the mud and a broken twig under my shoe. How clumsy we are, I think, unlike the shadow.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Staring into space #10



Taking the path less trod might seem a good idea at the time but for some it might suggest the destination is fixed in concrete and all we have to do is turn sideways. Personally, I like the idea of staring at the exits and waiting to see who or what comes my way.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Staring into space #9


I have heard that each time we take a breath there is a good chance we suck in a couple of molecules of carbon dioxide expired by Galileo.
The space we occupy isn't ours; its borrowed. From our ancestors, our friends, enemies, from strangers. Each step we take is taken with the consideration that we have left behind something for someone else to use. Like a snail, we leave behind our own version of slime; not in any derogatory sense, its just the way we are. Some of us recognise that. We can look carefully at where we are and see the evidence of others. We can also look behind and see what we have left behind. We might even follow a trail as we leave our own.
Whatever we choose to do is permanent. The tide will wash away the footsteps but new one will appear after the tide has left its own trail.
Tread carefully. Be curious.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Staring into space #8



I'm easily confused. I have seen a chicken stare at a white line and become mesmerized. I know the feeling. It's not so much the line that confuses me but the space on either side. Incongruities. One side says yes, the other side says no. Left, right, up down, in out, wet, dry. Always opposing. Always confusing. The line projects into the distance and I'm stuck right here trying to figure out my next move. Like the chicken.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Staring into space #7



I can picture him. The plasterer. An artist inside, a tradesman to those who pass by. It's his space to fill. As he wishes. He stares at the symmetry and his thoughts run to levels I don't understand. He can see things I can't. No-one can. Putting thoughts and emotions to a reality he hopes someone will feel. He cries inside for a lost love one, laughs at his children, weeps for peace, spits at the politicians who take his taxes. He's hungry now. For satisfaction. Expression. He wants me to see. I can't. It's just swirls but I know there is a bit of him in there.
I stare at the space and wait for it to reveal itself.
I think I can see a dog.

Staring into space #6



What do you see in there? What do you hope to see? A different past? Regret? Someone else's contentment? A missed opportunity? Something better than you got? Dead days?
Stare intently, my friend. Go blind looking. Accommodate for nothing. It's done and gone, what you had. What you did. As dark as it is, as twisted as it seems, as regretful as it feels.
It's a tree and it will always be a tree.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Staring into space #5



Something else used to be here. A park bench, possibly. Some soft lawn and a few shrubs. A tactile place, with smells of old wood and colour of life. You could lay on the lawn and stare at the flags and feathers mix with the clouds as they drift north into the sky above the sea. I can remember it. Just, if I stare long enough. Someone is playing. Hide and seek with no-one to be found. A futile game, like most. Winning what? Someone must loose. It's the nature of things. Like the grass that used to be here. And the trees.
What's left to capture my attention. Well manicured space with precision planting and a rock to look at. It can't hide from the child and his game. For a moment the space fills with the past and is gone. I am still. The past will not return. I stare in hope.

Staring into space #4



If I didn't know better I could be terrified. I can stand here all day and the outcome will be the same. Don't stand on the cracks I hear myself say. Don't enter the Black Hole. There is no return. I'm still. I can wait. Someone will come. Someone will light the way. Staring doesn't illuminate. Only knowledge overcomes fear. Only fear holds me back.
Pay your bills.

Friday, May 17, 2013

staring into space #3



If I go into the garage and close the door behind me it takes a few minutes for my eyes to accommodate. The depth of black is immense. There are no boundaries and the quiet noise shuffles from space to space around me. I can hear the dust settle and a cobweb wave against my breath. Someone turns a light on in the house and its whiteness creeps under the crack below the door. Images begin to appear and the soft sounds are drowned out by the clutter of vision. I am once again among friends. Things of comfort I can rely on. I pass through the door into the light and leave my friends alone in their space.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

staring into space #2



Its the way everything comes together right then. Light, water, lilies, me. I can watch it from here and detach myself from it or I can float above it and be part of it. Articles in space. No mystical connection, just being right there right now. No weird energy flow or cosmic force, only what I think of it and other things. There is a flash of an old school day memory and I'm paddling a rusty home made canoe into the polluted waters of Duck Creek at the age of 12. Is that why we have a memory? To have a past so we can enjoy the present just that little bit more?

staring into space #1



Christine often catches me staring into space, not paying attention [to her], day dreaming. I catch myself doing it often. Just staring, wondering how I got here, finding a bit of peace and quiet inside my very busy head, enjoying the surroundings, or just being still.
"what are you thinking?" Nothing and everything. About the past and the present, some discomfort with the short future. Then I see a glimpse of a possibility, a plan, a solution, a reason, a memory, a reminder that while I am staring there is another place outside which stares back at me and asks: "What are you doing here?"
I don't now, really, but I'm having a good time with it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

When men talk



On any day I would find myself by myself, not lonely but alone, contemplative, thoughtful and enjoying my own company. Men do this. Whether it is a matter of course, a genetic disposition or by choice, the impact of a group or crowd of people on a man's social complexion can be contrary to his well being and demeanor. Being solitary in a crowded place is his art form, enabling him to detach from the conversations at hand, the hassle of human traffic and the frivolity of idle chatter.

Often, by those who believe they know better, this is mistaken for ignorance, laziness, rudeness, even some sort of illness especially if attached to the elderly. Children shout, wives abuse, friends ignore, the shopkeeper becomes intolerant and the taxi driver fails to stop. The man alone becomes invisible to the rest of the world, as a shadow might in a darkened alley. Observed from afar, the man alone becomes the centre of a whirlpool of activity in which he is the singular and stationary hub and the circumference spins as if to escape, to disconnect, to run tangent to such isolation and personal imprisonment. The man who chooses to be alone is often seen as the social outcast, depriving himself of the company and pleasures of others.

"You should get out more, meet people, join a club, be sociable, make friends, enjoy life"; he hears through friends and family with good but misplaced intentions.

So, the man who seeks peace within finds his cave in the most peculiar places. In the street, on a bus to Shanghi, in the office, in his bed with his loved one; even in bed with someone elses loved one. And there he will stay for an age, trusting that he alone knows the answers to the questions he asks.


There are times when the solitary man will choose to mingle. There must be value in such social intercourse, of course. An exchange of finance, for a start. Money, borrowed or owed, allows for collaboration. It becomes the intermediary, the quest for information: price, payment, rates and exchange. It's business and no more. Once over, there will be a quick exchange of cordiality and a handshake, then a parting. Until next time. Money helps men speak.

A casual encounter is often avoided. If not, it creates a tension that requires some posturing and shuffling until an equilibrium is achieved. A nod, a grunt, remembering a name (which men do poorly), a mention of the weather, health, work, destination. Some standard phrases: long time no see; how have you been? Are you still working for .....? Then a pause, each turns their body away from the other and looks into the distance as if to find another aquaintance that can carry the conversation forward.
"Have you seen such and such?"
 Neither has, so the time to part comes quickly but uncomforably. "Gotta go" one will say. "Me too" and the  contact is broken. Like a stage from a rocket, one breaks loose in slow motion and is pulled as if by gravity towards an unknown destination, the other hesitates as if there is something more to be said, then turns and moves off into another space.


When men find themselves in clusters there must be a commonality, a generality that renders solidarity within the group. Often this association is seen as a pretence for the meeting and rightly so, for men are invariably shy among men; well, maybe not shy but tentitive, wary, as if the meeting must be conditional, functional and with purpose. A card game, some drinks at the pub, a football match, somewhere where the participants have some common language and a need to face away from each other without fear of insult. In such instances the talk will revolve around "the Game" with unobtrusive interjections on past and future events which will be answered with a grunt with further and much more intensive and elaborate discussion on the activity before them.
"Man U are playing like a bunch of girls. C'mon you lot. Kick the shit out of them!!"
"Isn't your wife having a baby?'
"Yeah. Hey, Amos, you're supposed to stop the fuck'n ball not collect them."
"When?"
"Now, moron. Look, he just let another one through."
"Your wife, dickhead. Isn't she due?"
"Yeah, today sometime. I told her to hang on until I got home. Hey, ref, who's paying you this week?"


When men come together as a means of collectively solving problems and discussion socio-political abhorations there is a need to establish an hierarchy. Elderly men are usually well respected, although young guns might make a challenge for superiority. Their opinions will be noted but have less impact on decisions made that those who have more experience. Challenges for superiority are quickly established during the initial stages when there will be a comparison of wages collected, local knowledge of the quickest way to get home, the number of times "Do you know .....?" is asked, the fuel economy of the car and the most politically incorrect statement with reference to women or a chosen ethnic group.

Once the pecking order is established, there will be a period of silence, almost prayer like, when each participant will take time to collect their thoughts for the debates ahead. Actually, each is wondering why they are here and who the fuck invited Randolph.

So the business begins. Usually three conversations will start simultaneously, although that depends on the numbers. The saturation point for a division to occur is five. Groups of five will each have their own topic but each man can move freely between packs and add to the conversation without any knowledge of what went before. There will be copious amounts of laughter, shouting, pointing of fingers and waving of arms. Points will be proven, theories destroyed, laws created, religions demonished, politician scandalized, legends created. The volume of the discussion will depend on the amount of alcohol consumed and how convincing the speaker wants to be.In the end, any man here would fail an exam on the subject matter. Alcohol, disjointed logic and the unwillingness to listen to anyone's point of view - or believe it - will render the whole thing pointless.

On rare occasions, women will be present, often as a result of a man not having two cars or he is still insisting, in an effort to show others he is New Age and Sensitive, to take his wife/girlfriend/sister/mother everywhere he goes. His name is usually Randolph. Men pay attention to women when they are present in such male dominated groups. This is a result of either a predetermined condition known to most men as 'nagging' where he has been told more than a few time to listen or else, or he is trying to 'get his leg over', a rather crass term used by men among themselves when one of their kind is being polite and actually listening to what a woman is saying - with what seems to be obvious and undetatched interest.

But at the end of the day, when all is done, a man will find a place where he can speak honestly and openly, be passionate, emotional and thoughtful, speak the truth and find the answer to all questions, be confident, voice his opinion without contradiction and agree with everyone present.

That's when I am alone again.