A Late Late Night, Wine, Music and The Company Of Writers

Friday 26th June 2020 00:25

OK, well, first off: a huge thank you to my friend Melissa Wiley, who is running 2-hour work sessions for her Patreon folk at the moment. Lissa is in Portland, Oregon, on the west coast of the US, so her mid-afternoon sessions are very late night for me, but I’ve been hoping to join one for a while, and today presented the perfect opportunity.

It’s been the hottest day here in the UK. Mid 30’s. Far too hot for me to do anything but hide away indoors and wait for the (slightly) cooler evening. And that, it turns out, has signalled a bit of a turning point.

Now I have to admit here that this turning point has been very slightly fuelled by alcohol. Only a couple of small glasses of wine, but nowadays I’m not drinking at all, quite simply because I can’t afford to. Truly. Food or wine, and – now I know this might not be everyone’s choice 😄 – food has to win. Because funds are very, very low. But! I had a birthday last week, and dear friends gave me wine, so this evening I have enjoyed a couple of glasses, sat outside in the slightly cooler air, with music playing in my ear… and life, for the first time in many weeks, didn’t feel bad.

And for the first time in many weeks I found I didn’t want to write about the crisis we’re all in. I didn’t even want to think about it; at all. Wine and music were breaking through the dense fog and lifting it; and the setting sun, the jungle that is my garden at the moment, the swifts swooping and soaring in the sky – all of them worked to lift my mood. It was like a door being thrown open that I didn’t even know was there and for that moment the world felt like it used to.

I think for a moment I contemplated changing my decision to opt for food over wine, but I recognised the truth that I wouldn’t be getting any work done if I did that. And this, suddenly, was about getting some work done.

I’ve been ‘indoors’ for over 100 days. And in all that time I’ve really been unable to do anything. It’s as if I’ve been asleep for 100 days, it really is. 100 days might as well be 1 day; or 1,000. I don’t know if I can move on from that, but this evening – music and wine and this very important late late work session in the company of other writers – this feels good. This feels like tomorrow has arrived. This feels like watching the sunrise on a beautiful new day.

Who’s Driving This Bus?

Monday 17 February 2020 21:35

I think I’m back. After over a fortnight in the grip of some horrible cold virus, today I have at last felt as if I’m on the road to recovery. So time to get back to this; and, er, that.

That, in this case, being the non-earning but important to do from a creative life sustaining kinda way idea of finding somewhere to set up a real life creative space. Or that’s what I thought it was. It seems this idea has bigger ideas for itself.

About a week ago (was it?), not being up to much, I did a bit of searching for a suitable website address, and came up with “Drawing 4 Health”. It wasn’t my first choice, but other domain names had already been taken in some form, and I’ve always followed the premise that it’s wisest not to just choose a different ending (the “.co.uk” etc bit), because you don’t want potential site visitors being sent to someone else’s site instead. So, drawing4health.org.uk it was. And drawingforhealth.org.uk on a redirect, just in case.

That bit was easy. Putting a site together wasn’t, not least because I didn’t really know what I was doing this for or why. It just seemed to want me to do it. Which brings me to a theory you may have heard before: that ideas aren’t ours at all.

The theory (which I fully subscribe to) is that ideas are out there, floating around, looking for someone who they feel might make a good job of turning them into reality. You’ve heard people say that an idea “came” to them; well that’s it exactly. You don’t “have” an idea; an idea “comes” to you, it chooses you. It’s up to you to do your best with it.

And so it is that I find myself listening to this idea (an idea I thought was mine, but I now realise isn’t at all), and doing my best to carry out the instructions it’s giving me.

Like the person sat behind the wheel of a driverless car – I have no idea and no control over where we’re going. It’s all as much a mystery to me as to everyone else what this is, and where it will end up; but I’m enjoying the ride.

Drawing4Health is still very much a work in progress. I wanted to have something out there to give an impression of what this idea is all about, before seeing the people with the lovely garden space, hopefully on Wednesday. In time the site will have proper graphics – for now there are coloured slabs with a bit of text glued on. But I think it’s starting to take shape.

See what you think. But don’t expect me to answer questions, I’m just following instructions…


Looking Through Windows

Friday 24 January 2020 23:15

My second “Catch Up Friday” today, and the task booked in for the day was to set up a couple of new PCs loaded with Windows 10 for two friends, who understand – heaven bless them – that this at least was how I made my living, and insisted on paying; so like a proper day’s work, but in good company.

Ever since the days, over 20 years ago, when I first started training computer users, the phrase that always ran round in my head in the run up to delivering a class was the old “fail to prepare and prepare to fail”, and that rule always held true. I learned quickly that the hours put in to preparation were worth the sacrifice, and far preferable to many more hours of self loathing if a class went badly and it was my own fault (not to mention the torture of standing up in front of a room full of delegates, very obviously not knowing what I was doing). I have ‘winged’ it. One memorable morning often comes back to me, of the first day of a two-day Access course, when I stood writing the day’s schedule on the whiteboard with my back to the already full classroom, knowing I had no idea what I was going to say when I turned back to face them. The unanimously positive feedback at the end of the second day told me that I’d got away with it, but I vowed never to put myself in that position again.

These days I’m a Mac user myself, and have been for more than a decade. I haven’t used Windows for my own work for a very long time; and I have never so much as even seen a screenshot of Windows 10, never mind the real thing. I have, in my time, set up probably near on 100 PCs, and I am blessed, it seems, with a brain that can make sense of it all at a glance, even if that’s the first glance (show me a room of computer geeks, and I’ll show you a room full of ADHD brains!), but that doesn’t prevent me from feeling a fraud when I know I’m perceived as the ‘expert’.

So this morning, I “prepped”.

Sitting up in bed just after 8am, with my porridge and mug of tea, I delved into Microsoft’s website and YouTube for screenshots and “What’s New” lists, made a note of anything that had changed significantly from previous versions of Windows, and checked if there were any items that tended to default one way, but that other users’ experience now said it would be wise to be set differently; I even picked up a few tips about some planned obsolescence within Win10, so I could set it up now to allow for that.

It felt good to be going through the old routine of prepping prior to seeing a ‘client’, but it reminded me why I’d eventually had to accept that this was not a viable business; things change too quickly and the cost – in time and the very real cost in ‘equipment’ – is simply not recoupable (is that a word? recoupable?).

However, today was good. It all went well. As always it took far longer than expected as things needed updating and restarting and passwords were refused or lost… but in the end I left two happy people with their new computers secure, safe, privacy protected, set up to suit them, with all the required apps installed and ready to go.

I truly do thank them for recognising the work involved and paying for my time; not everybody does and it means a lot. Even more though, they also insisted on buying me a fish and chip supper, and delivering it later to my door.

As I sat down to enjoy it, I felt happy to have earned it, and I felt valued, and that felt really good.

And as fish and chip suppers go, it went, ha ha, and was delicious! (I always seem to end on food…)