Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Envy, for one. Then there’s vanity. Regret. Also a neurotic obsession with what people feel about me. All that kind of stuff.
Actually, it all boils down to greed. Wanting to be held in affectionate regard, wanting what others have whether it be money, possessions or a ‘nicer’ personality.
I heard a lecture by a Buddhist gentleman recently and he said something like the way to know if you are unhappy is to sit still and see how long before you are carrying on imaginary dialogues in your head.
We all know that one is true: what we’re going to say, what we should have said and what we wished we had not said. I've at least 30 years of this crap stockpiled in my head.
Self-obsession and dishonesty. I know for a fact that I have wronged people in the past. I know I have even done this in the past week. Maybe not big things ... maybe just a thoughtless word or thinking of my own needs before others who are more deserving. And, to a certain extent, this is the way we work, we humans: we're always doing stupid stuff to each other.
Two things here: I wish I wish I wish I could be a better person and God knows I try. For instance, here on Tiree, I can think of one person at least who used to be a very close friend of mine but who has become distant and reserved because he feels I let him down. And the thing is, I did. But I've apologised and I don't know what else to do. Maybe it's not what I did but the way I did it. Whatever.
When I was a very young teenager the novelist Ross Story told me "Self recrimination is a worthless preoccupation". So, for instance, I have to let this one go. There's nothing more I can do about it. I want to stop feeling bad every time I see my old buddy because I'm just on the verge of feeling sorry for myself.
It is wrong - most of the time at least - to be dishonest to an acquaintance or otherwise. But do you want to know something? I think it's almost worse to be dishonest with yourself.
We've all been places we don't like, situations we'd rather be far removed from, relationships we'd rather be out of. For whatever reason we feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we may even be in mental distress. But for some reason we just can't come out and say what's bugging us. (Incidentally, this is why I find straight talking people both frightening and refreshing.) And you know what we do sometimes, don't you? We turn the thing around in our heads so we end up blaming it all on the 'significant other'. A mental defence mechanism if there ever was one.
As you can probably guess I've been doing a bit of thinking about all this over the past few days. I've been trying to face up to all the things that bug me about my relationships with others and myself.
The first thing that challenged me is the idea of being in a relationship with myself. Are there two of me? There's the 'me' that people in the physical world talk to, listen to, and so on. There's the 'me' inside my head, the mental 'me' who observes and reviews what the physical 'me' does and who controls the physical 'me' somewhat like a puppet. I would hazard a guess that most people in this society operate a two tier personality like me. Perhaps it is a common but poorly perceived state of affairs. I simply do not know.
I suspect this delusion - if it is indeed a delusion - is the result of social conditioning. The Buddhists say there is no self. What does this mean? When I think about Gordon Scott I imagine a jumble of emotions and events, a history which makes a 'person' who is 'me'. If the Buddhists are right, then I am deluded.
The idea that I am the consequence or culmination of my past behaviour is and must be a lie if for no other reason than the past does not exist. This appears to fly in the face of psychiatry and common sense. After all, is not the child the father of the man? Of course we learn as we go through life and we modify our responses accordingly. We tend to define people by the way they act but this is not really who they are. Likewise, we are not our actions. A moment's self-reflection will confirm this. It cannot possibly be so.
How liberating to be part of everything, to experience everything at first hand rather than locked away in the dungeon of the ago seeing everything - as it were - through another person's eyes. At first this struck me as a complex philosophical matter but I rather suspect the resolution is quite simple. The key is honesty. And I must honestly say that I have to do a little more thinking about this.
However, the second thing that challenged me was the promise of confession. After all, if I really have been fooling myself has the time not come to drag these half-truths and downright lies from the dark recesses of my mind, to name, accuse, try and condemn them? Ah the mind - and what is the mind? - is a tricky thing. Who was the fool and who the joker?
This is therapy, this is release. And what better venue than a blog to conduct this little experiment?
I am sorry if this is rambling and nonsensical. I am grasping at spectres.
Yesterday my mate Ian McManus supplied me with this reminder of the first decisive bite. Unfortunately, you can't actually see the worm - not really - but take it on trust, this is what I'm doing.
Going by the look on my face you'd think it tasted awful. But it didn't. It was tasteless.
- The money continues to flood in following last weekend's fundraiser for The Beatson. The last figure I heard was that £2100 had been raised. That's incredible. Another thing that has totally amazed me: never before have I ever heard of people being turned away at the door of a charity family night because the hall was jam-packed! What a caring community we live in.
- We came back from holiday to find a lot of activity going on over on The Reef. Major upgrading work is going on at Tiree Airport. The cost of the work runs into many millions.
- Another summer date for The Defenders: August 4th at The Regatta Dance being held at An Talla.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
So, today is Saturday and already the 'miseries' are setting in. Back to work on Monday. Oh dear. But I must not be too glum. There are still a whole two days to go before that happens!
This morning, as I write, somewhere out there on the High Seas, Rona Campbell is skippering our ferry - probably The Clansman - on its journey to Tiree. If you need to know how this odd situation comes to be, have a look down the right hand side of this page. All the details are there.
Tonight, a family night at An Talla will attempt raise funds to support the work of the Beatson clinic in Glasgow.
Almost all of us at one time or another are indirectly or directly touched by the shadow of cancer. In the past two years three of my friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Happily, all were diagnosed early and have made a full recovery.
Tonight, at An Talla, we can give something back. It's a family night and adults can 'bring their own bottle'. A ceilidh band will be on hand to provide dance music and, at Rona's request, I'll be singing a couple of songs. But because it's a family night the emphasis will be very much on having fun so expect a few games as well!
There will also be loads of ways to contribute to the cause through raffles, etc. (I've had a look at the raffle prizes by the way and some of them are amazing. People have been very generous.)
If you can manage along tonight not only will you have a great time but you will also be helping fund the work of The Beatson. And that's a noble purpose.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Good morning from the Isle of Tiree! Here is a slide show of choice photographs from our holiday south of the border. Most of these shots are from York, Suffolk and Dover. I've added captions so you have an idea what you're looking at. If you want to see the photographs in a bigger format I think you click on screen.
We went to see The Defenders at An Talla last night. They were incredible. Not only was the sound tight and well balanced but singer Billy Byfield was a revelation! What a great voice, what a great range. He was hitting notes I could only dream about when I was the singer in the band. Billy is a real rock 'n' roll singer, something I have never been. Long live The Defenders!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I'm sure you will agree with me that this vile creature has evil written all over its cute little face.
Look at those eyes. Pure evil. If you were to stick a 'thinks' balloon on to this photograph the squirrel would be saying "that's right, matey. Snap away. But just wait until your back's turned!"
My advice to you is to commit this ugly mug to memory.
If you see the squirrel do not approach it. Rather, fetch a policeman.
Seriously: a slide show with commentary coming up over the next few days and more reflections on my holiday.
Tonight, Jo and I are off to see The Defenders at An Talla. This will be an interesting gig for me as it will be the first time I've seen the boys play live since I left the band last year.
On a musical note (no pun intended) if you are on Tiree at this time remember that When Rona's Boat Comes In takes place at An Talla this Saturday night. It's a family affair but you can also bring your own bottle if you wish. There will be live performers playing traditional Scottish dance band music.
Additionally, there will be some aging crew-cutted hippie playing a short set of (hopefully) well-known pop classics on his battered old acoustic guitar. Wonder who that could be?
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The last time I wrote - Thursday I think - I was just about to go off and meet my father's cousin Harry Howe for the very first time. We had a lovely visit, lasting many hours. Harry was a scream and I felt like I'd known him all my life. Doris, his wife, is a fine lady. Into the bargain I met their son, Martin, my other 'new' second cousin.
That evening we ventured back to Scole, our base while in Suffolk. Our friends Peta and Martin joined us for an update of The Canterbury Tales, performed in the open air. It was highly entertaining and really, really funny.
The next day we zoomed down south to Dover. In the evening I met up with cousin Jeff and his wife Sue in the famous White Horse Inn. As I expected there wasn't a hint of nervousness or awkwardness. As with Harry there was something in our genetic makeup which made us very relaxed with each other.
Next morning Jeff took us on a guided tour of Canterbury. Amazing! In the afternoon Joanne and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary (at exactly 3.20 p.m.) on the slopes of Dover's famous Western Heights along with Jeff, Sue and a bunch of their very interesting friends.
Sunday morning Jo and I walked around Dover. Come the evening it was time to eat. Sue and Jeff and Jo and I headed back to Canterbury for Italian food.
As Jeff remarked before we parted, our meeting was something of a landmark for both of us. In a sense our meeting had brought our family back together again.
Monday was a mad dash up the road to miss as much of the horrible weather affecting England. We stopped off overnight at - of all places - Gretna!
This is all a bit rushed, I know, and short on detail. I'll see to the detail when I get back. I've got loads of great photographs to show you into the bargain. We hope to get back to Tiree on Thursday.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Before I go on any further let me say a big thank you to everyone who has messaged or emailed to offer me advice about my mobile. Unfortunately, I'm now getting a 'SIM card is rejected' message when I try to start the phone up so there is no way - at the moment at least - of accessing it at all. I'll figure something out. In the meantime, Joanne and I are sharing her phone.
The past few days have not been without incident. On Monday while wandering through the Abbey Gardens in York I met with a little accident. I saw this cute little grey squirrel cavorting under the trees. I took to the grass and was clicking away, managing to get him to come and pose almost right in front of the camera. Everyone around me was going 'aw' and 'ah, how cute'.
Very pleased with myself I turned to walk back on to the road, stepped off the kerb and - CRASH! - I was flat on my back, in a bit of pain.
I have two theories about what happened. The first is that I stepped off the kerb but hadn't noticed there was a sunken drainage grill exactly where I put my foot. I misjudged my footing. That is all.
The second theory is more sinister. The squirrel, fed up with my attentions, waited until my back was turned and drop-kicked me Jackie Pallo-style, sending me sprawling. As ludicrous as this sounds I have a close up said squirrel taken seconds before I fell down and evil intent is written all across his face!
The end result was a bloody knee, elbow, fingers. I was a brave soldier, however, and managed not to cry. I was wearing a rucksack (just in case Jo wanted to shop) and it absorbed a lot of the impact.
Anyway, I have loads of pictures to show you but I don't think I'm allowed to download them here in the library so that will have to wait until I get Wi-Fi access or get back home.
Next on the agenda: we are about to leave Stowmarket to go across to Beccles to visit Harry and Doris Howe and their son Martin. Harry and my father were cousins although I don't think they ever met. They may not have even been aware of each other's existence! So, I'm looking forward to spending the rest of the morning with them.
In the morning it's off to Dover to meet up with my other second cousin, Jeff Howe.
Better dash: talk to you soon!
Monday, July 16, 2007
Today everything has changed. It's sunny and it's dry. We don't feel like we're getting a bad case of trenchfoot.
You know how I said we were heading for the campsite we always go to? (Did I say that?) Allerton Park turned out to be completely choc-a-bloc. That's the first time we've been turned away from there. Serves us right for not planning properly. Anyway, most of the regular campsites about York seem to have been taken over by the Caravan Club and I think it's their policy now not to allow tent campers of any description on their properties.
So we found abed and breakfast about a mile's walk away from the centre of town. £42 per person per night. Ouch! And you don't get very much for that, I'll tell you.
This morning we've been walking about, shopping a little bit. We went into a cool shop called Sacred Earth. You can imagine from the shop title the kind of stuff they sell. I got myself a cool little thumb piano from Bali.
I bought myself a new fascia for my beat-up old Nolia 3510 and somehow in the process of putting it on I've blocked the SIM card. Does anyone know how I can unlock it? It's asking for a PUK code. I haven't a clue what that is. When Jo phoned up on her phone it went through a long set of instructions only to tell us in the end that it doesn't work on a Nokia phone. How wonderful.
(Hmmm ... I have an old Samsung in the house ... maybe I can unlock it with that when I get back?)
I've been firing off the camera at everything that moves this morning. Unfortunately I can't load them up from here - I'm typing in the basement internet cafe at the City Screen.
I think that's about it for now. Tomorrow we move on to Suffolk. Tomorrow it will rain and rain and rain. The only solace I can take is that it's going to be raining everywhere in the UK. That helps. Sorry.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Raining. Mix up with our booking. Got on just the same. Busy boat. Loads of cars. Loads of bikes on top of cars. Glad we got here early. Hope it's The Clansman today. Feel sorry for the Cal Mac guys out there collecting tickets and registration cards. Police just arrived in the form of Danny. Seems to be looking for someone. Excitement! Spoke to a friend down at the pier who filled me in about the high jinks at the Lodge Hotel. The very well liked ceilidh combo The Vattersy Boys have been at the Lodge Hotel for the past couple of days and there have been all sorts of impromptu jam sessions. I heard the feis tutors dropped by on Thursday night and that the place was going like a fair! Unfortunately, casualties have been sustained.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Here's a video from my friend and fellow runner David Peach. David says he was inspired to make this short video in response to my 'Where I Run' videos and he makes reference to Tiree in his narrative. Long Beach, California looks very pretty to me, David. Thanks for sending me this video and letting me share it with my readers.
If I understand this document correctly the deposition was made just prior to the 'mermaid's' remains being exhumed, some 18 years after they had been buried.
As you will see, this document is part of the online archive which can be found at the relatively new An Iodhlann site. On the off-chance that you don't know, An Iodhlann is the historical centre - a museum and archive - here on the Isle of Tiree. Please do visit their wonderful site and, when you visit in person, go along and say 'hello'.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
Tiree has hosted an open level contest for over 20 years in the shape of the Tiree Wave Classic, and now, with the financial and logistical support of Event Scotland, Corona Extra, VisitScotland, Highland 2007 and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scotland will host the UK’s first ever PWA Wave World Cup, challenging and elevating Tiree’s position on the global windsurfing circuit.
Tiree’s rugged coastline, big waves and a prize fund of 30,000 Euros will provide the greatest challenge yet for windsurfing’s elite competitors in this, the year that Scotland celebrates Highland culture.
Paul Bush of EventScotland said, “`We are delighted to have supported the growth of the Tiree Wave Classic, with our partners to a point where it holds immense value to both the Isle of Tiree. World Cup status for the event is further evidence of Scotland’s growing reputation as a destination for major events and allows us to showcase the diverse nature of Scotland’s natural assets to a world audience and provides great sporting occasions for visitors to enjoy.“
HIE Argyll and the Islands, Area Director, Ken Abernethy said, -"The Highlands and Islands of Scotland have always been recognised for their remoteness and beauty but, in recent years, the area has been showing what a terrific location it is for hosting world class outdoor events. The PWA World Cup event on Tiree will be a great success and add to the growing international reputation of the Highlands and Islands as a breathtakingly beautiful place to hold big events"
The Corona Extra PWA World Cup will guarantee extreme adrenaline fuelled action as 48 of the world’s finest wave sailors come together to brave the full Atlantic furies of wind and waves on the stunning island off the West coast of Scotland (often described as The Hawaii of the North or The Land Below the Waves) in October.
Andy Groom, from GMF CO Ltd, organisers of The Corona Extra PWA World Cup, said: “The professionalism of our event team and the massive potential of windsurfing and other watersports to showcase the activity opportunities available to visitors to Scotland has once again attracted the unique and vital partnership of Corona Extra, EventScotland, VisitScotland, Highland 2007, Argyll and Bute Council and HIE Argyll and the Islands. The financial backing and logistical support of these partners is invaluable in helping us stage Scotland’s inaugural PWA World Cup event”
A strong contingent of both past and present champions will descend on the island for the ultimate test as the PWA World Tour season nears its gripping conclusion. Reigning World champion Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails) and tour leader Josh Angulo are sure to make the trek, as will 2004’s victor, Scott McKercher (Starboard / Severne). Brazil’s Kauli Seadi (Naish / Naish), who triumphed in 2005, is no stranger to colder climes, but there is little doubt that the British team will be a force to be reckoned with on such familiar territory. Nik Baker (Mistral / North), who won in Tiree in 1990, John Skye (Naish / Naish), the 2005 champ, Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra), Phil Horrocks (JP / NeilPryde) and Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde) could all be in with a shout.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
8th July 2007 and it's 5-a-sides day on the reef. Here's a very short video showing the team mostly made up of my female work colleagues. Although the girls lost their initial game they came back to score a few in their later games. A great bunch of girls. (Video subsequently removed by request of one of the players. Team members who wish to view the video please contact me.)
A warning to all terrorists.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Sunday, July 01, 2007
The sun is out but I don't think it will be with us for long. Neither will the weekend. How quickly time passes if you don't make good use of it.
The highlight of this weekend was talking to my 'new' cousin Jeff via Skype. Jeff lives in Dover and in a few weeks time Jo and I will be driving down there to meet him and wife Sue. The quality of the Skype connection was brilliant. I still find it hard to believe it's absolutely free.
Jeff and I are great-grandchildren of Charles Nestor Howe. My father was called Charles Nestor Howe Scott, the son of Florence Howe, CNH's daughter. I 'googled' CNH's name one day and up came all this information. Another reminder of how truly amazing the Internet can be!
On the way down through England I'll be dropping in to see my Auntie Barbara (one of Florence's daughters) and Doris and Harry Howe, Jeff's parents. All these good folks happen to live in Suffolk, a county with which I am very familiar having visited there many times.
All in all I'll have to drive a 1200 mile round trip but I'll be doing it in stages. We have a hotel booked in Dover but on the way down we'll be doing a lot of camping. We still love to camp out, even at this time in our lives. It's got nothing to do with saving money (even though it is a much cheaper option).
Look, let me put it this way: a roll in bacon tastes totally different when you prepare and eat it in the open air. I rest my case.