May solitude

We got horribly drunk the night before

A couple of drinks after work

Turned into something considerably different.

A brandy promotion

Or something

I couldn’t remember driving home

But back then it was ok

Waking up with that confused guilty sensation

With a pounding head and a face that felt swollen

Meeting them back at work

We laughed as people do when knowing they’re equally in pain

I needed to be in the town of George later that afternoon

A four hour drive on my own down the coast

I left at midday.

Driving slowly

Nothing but a hotel reservation in front of me

My hangover slowly faded

Into that not unpleasant state of sweet melancholia

It was May

My favourite month in South Africa

The afternoon sun reflected off the still waters of the Knysna lagoon

In the windless cool stillness of May

The patches of mist

Clung to the earth in the valleys and on the water

And I felt ok

I was ok

There’s nothing quite like arriving at a hotel room

After a drive

Especially in the tiredness of an afternoon following a hangover.

A properly made bed

New sheets, your own space . . . . and silence

Glorious silence and solitude

My room overlooked the Outeniqua mountains

I sipped a glass of wine as I looked out at the sun going down to my left

It’s the crazy nights that sometimes make us feel alive

And the beautiful moments of solitude

Remain so hard to explain

Mizzle on the A127

Driving through the mizzle

On the A127

Trying to understand all of this

And the train of time 

Rolls on relentlessly 

As I struggle to keep up

Closing my eyes

Through this darkest part

Recognising the long night

I’ve been in

Confronting the imposter 

Within

Thursdays at the Rising Sun

Thursdays at the Rising Sun pub

On a corner of Cloth Fair

Weeks of working towards a stressful strat day

Had left everyone worn and weary

And with that feeling of post-battle comfortable lazy lethargy

A harsh downpour of rain had passed and the sun had come out

And the Smithfield world dazzled

And the air smelled strangely pure and clean

Thursdays at the Rising Sun pub

Sometimes they could be a little dreary depending on company and mood

But not today

It was payday in late May and summer was coming

And we could feel it in the air

Our favourite bar lady Hanna warmed us with her smile

And her drinks

And the way her hair covered the left side of her face

Which I always found so alluring

And Tom from Data and Insights was here

Things were always better when Tom was around

All the good nights seemed to happen when he joined

So it goes

As it went from dusk to dark the music went from pop to Motown

As Tom told cycling stories to increasingly loud laughter

I leaned on the bar talking garbage to Rebecca

Making fun of her height and her accent

Which she seemed to like

We were all tired

But we drank on

Tired and relieved

Was better than wired and stressed

For once we felt like people who’d actually done something

Who’d achieved

The laughter got more hysterical and the music got under my skin

Tomorrow would be unproductive

The next few days would be, but who cared

Particularly then

Walking to the station with the usually serious, quiet Paul

As he rambled about some story about our CEO

I could relate and I laughed

Because I’d thought the same thing

He was amusing himself just as much as me

And I stared at the three towers of the Barbican

Looming over us

Like life reminding us that it was there

That tomorrow was there

Against the backdrop of brutal repetitions of this life

Some majestic triumphs of humanness

Shine out of the strange paradoxes

Thursdays at the Rising Sun pub

Some were better than others

Egg on mince

Confronted by reality

You sit in your underwear at 10:30am

Eating left over mince with eggs on top

Remembering what you said

And the jokes you tried to make

All seeming a little less funny today

Slightly shaky, slightly confused

Were there not things you needed to do?

A tap drips

You see your reflection in the kitchen door glass

You stare back

You wonder

What you’re doing

With your life

Choice

The ambulance wails

In the distance 

Across a damp drizzle

These dreams

Aren’t always clear

I like to think

I’m always changing

But everything stays the same

In these washed up hours

And shipwrecked hopes

You see it in faces on the street

On the train

Hiding from the deep

In the shallow wastelands of modern life

Well go on then

Let’s crack on

The show goes on 

And all that

But

I’m tired

I’m lost

I’m out of touch

I’m a little too in love

With suffering

And deadbeat reflection

Another day awaits

Big city boy

Stuck in moving crowds

Where I’ve never belonged

But I keep finding myself in bigger ones

The urban sprawl

A necessity of modern life and modern civilisation

Hive mind ant life

Sweaty in stations even as the seasons change

I could be growing tomatoes now

Or chopping fish in the back of some seaside village restaurant

Or opening up my bar at 3pm 

Taking chairs off tables

Small talk with waiters

But I sit in trains and make up ideas

As the horizon glows

As I mind the gap

The bench

 Some afternoons after work I’d walk

down to the promenade walkway

and walk 2 miles up the shore and back again

Strangely I preferred the windy afternoons

they somehow blew the monotony of the working day away

and made me feel alive again

There was an old man who always sat on the same bench

as I walked past

Some days I’d catch him getting there

some days I’d catch him leaving

Most times I’d just see him sitting there

on his own

looking out over the sea

I felt I knew what he was thinking

Sometimes he’d be staring down

at his old wrinkled hands or looking at passers by

A few times I saw him petting dogs smiling

so I knew he was kind type

I liked him for that

And then one day he wasn’t there

Ever again

As I walked back to my apartment

a couple of blocks back

I would sometimes think

We’re all just alone

sitting on a bench

waiting to disappear

The violin

I was in someone’s house the other day

And they had this old vintage violin

Just sitting there

Like an ornament

I wanted to pick it up

But I dared not

It looked quite expensive

And all that

But it did make me think

That I’d never held a violin in my life

In terms of talent I could be the greatest violinist

In the world

Probably not

Definitely not

But I’d never know

Would I

And then I thought of all these parallel universes

Looking at us

Doorways and pathways untravelled

Talents unfound

So much of of life is just

Reaching out to something in front of you

And hoping it works

Following some perceived north star

While seas crash around us

We come into this life

And throw the dice

And hope for the best

Living in mud huts

While the ghosts of mansions

Cast shadows all over

Growing tomatoes

Stuck in this corporate world

The longer I’m in it the more I want to leave it

And the more it becomes . . . impossible to

Gazing out the window on a listless Friday

The alien-like voices on conference calls drift

Through cold glass windows and they drone

And drone and drone

Like machines that have been left on

And my thoughts wander again

To that small town in my mind

Small house in a small town

Waking to the sound of a rooster

Watching the sun go down on my veranda each day

With white wine or maybe a whiskey if I’m in the mood

Spending days the way I please

Answering no one

Questioning nothing

Growing my own tomatoes

The modern world just a highway in the distance

The sound reminding you that it’s there, if you need it

But only if you need it

Only if you need it

Some daydreams keep you sane