Thursday, 29 December 2011
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
The wind is howling, the weather wet. This is the limbo time, the time when nothing but reflection is possible and all the fears and fears of the previous year hang heavy on your mind trying to crush you with their weighty self-importance.
The shed, the gas tank, the bank balance, and the glass, the glass, the glass…
Yes, with Christmas and the Christmas glass-rush all over and finished I am left feeling as flat as the proverbial fart. No, flatter. For a while there, with all my orders and the fun and worry of getting them all out before Christmas Eve, I felt as if I was riding the crest of a wave.
And I must have been because now that wave has come crashing down and I’m bobbing around in a cold and empty ocean just waiting for… well, whatever comes next I guess. A hungry shark would be preferable to a slow death through hypothermia though. (Please God).
Oh, I’m still sure that I have a great product that people want and I do believe that I am good at this malarkey, but at the end of the day it’s a numbers game and I need to generate the volume I require. The volumes aren’t massive, in fact the volumes are very achievable, but I ain’t gonna get them by sitting on my arse and waiting for people to wander into my shop and buy from me. It ain’t Christmas time any more.
And just why am I saying ‘ain’t’? Have I suddenly turned into some sort of glass gangster or something? Maybe I’ve spent too long being a trader (whatever that is) already, already. Oi vay!
Yes, I really wish it could be Christmas every day. I really don’t mind the late finishes, the 5.30 am starts to bake the glass, the cars, the funny faces, the Christmas Eve panic trying to rectify a mistake on that glass at the last minute (well, Greg can be spelt with two g’s apparently).
I did it though. I genuinely believe in offering great customer service and I have the Christmas day texts, e-mails, and the three customers who popped in to thank me today to prove it.
All I have to do now is make like Christmas every day.
The answer would appear to be online. These days all answers appear to be online, but even with my experience I find myself ill-equipped to make it happen. If I have one resolution this year, one necessity that is - I must take my glass online.
For those online wizards out there – all help gratefully accepted.
If I ever needed help I need it now.
Monday, 26 December 2011
Boxing Day with Christmas day gone. Well almost, some of it remains in my doodle book, gathered over the run of the morning, afternoon, evening, and well into the early hours.
Fuelled by the day itself – the presents, and food, and candles, the fire, the chestnuts, the tree, some quiet, and some noise - helped along by a slow procession of seasonal drinks – morning champagne, a pre-dinner jaggers and taggers, red wine, port, some JD and cokes, and finally a long late night scotch on ice - a nightcap.
Yeah, as someone who was once close said to me once I lead an alcohol fuelled existence, meaning it as a jibe. Of course I don’t, and her judgement only ever took into account her own small view, a set of arse-tight tiny beliefs and standards so full of doubt and self-importance that even trust was given a probability score.
Me? 2 out of10.
Anyway, if you can’t have a few drinks on Christmas Day… Well, I just hope it all shows in the work.
Throughout the day and night – above and below the ribbon’s outer lines, segmented up – morning, afternoon, night, and very late dark; five minutes here, a flick of ink there. Thirty seconds scribbling with my new pound shop felts (thanks Santa), careful manipulation of liquid gold, a flash of silver string, some scribbled words “hello, hello, hello – merry had a little lamb”. A record of my day and night encapsulated in my mind and allowed to pour itself onto my paper in any form it and I wanted it to.
Look closely. It isn’t quite the chaos it first appears to be.
Oh look – a Christmas tree!
My Christmas Day present to myself – all wrapped up in red ribbons and silver string.
A memory and a freedom and such a precious freedom. Fuelled by alcohol? Well maybe a little, but what great fuel and what a great memory.
Tin cans and Christmas day presents 2011 – for your pleasure and mine.
Sunday, 25 December 2011
So, Christmas Day.
Up and showered by nine, mid morning champagne, present opening, early afternoon dinner, too much wine, not enough air, and the house far too warm with the heating cranked up to full.
I made a tin can telephone out of two old coffee cans and a length of string then Holly and I played and whispered to each other in the hallway for a while, our words bouncing along the white twine, echoing on our ears.
“Merry had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow.”
No snow this year though, just drizzly rain.
Evening now and, trying to shake off the need to doze, I park myself in the kitchen and drink a coffee. Jack Daniels later with his good friend Pepsi, but at this moment I need some caffeine and perhaps a glass of sparkling water.
And all day the drizzly rain in my mind falling on my thoughts and threatening to dampen them. Communication is such a hard thing and sometimes there just aren’t enough tin cans to go around, and anyway I wouldn’t be able to tie the string – my fingers might fail me yet again.
Not everyone though - still some words along the strings when really I'm not sure that I deserve them. I take them anyway and thanks - you have no idea just what they mean to me.
"Its fleece was white as snow.”
Time to light the fire, get a good blaze going. That will chase away this drizzle, but I may leave a candle lit. Who knows?
Friday, 23 December 2011
Which way to go? Ah, I think I’ll walk towards that wood; I never could see the wood for the trees.
Sometimes when things get messy I just put one foot in front of the other and trudge on. It’s a lesson that I’ve learnt over this last year particularly (more about this year later once it is nearer to an end I expect). Trudging on has become my coping mechanism and defence.
No, I don’t think that this is the right path. Maybe I should forget the wood and see what’s down by the river.
So I’m writing as suggested but still have nothing to say. If you’ve got this far I won’t blame you if you head off home now. This is likely to be a bit of a meandering walk.
I stayed up late last night. I’m up to date with my glass and yesterdays bake is cooking away as I prattle. The glass seems to have caught people’s imaginations. I’ve certainly made a lot of Christmas presents and on Christmas morning husbands and wives, grans and granddads, boys and girls will open their deluxe carry boxes and find their hand-painted wine/beer/whisky/juice glass sparkling in its tissue paper wrapping.
I am such a wonderful person to be making all those people so happy.
This seems like a good path but I think I’ll go that way instead. That’s what I do when things are going well. I head off in a different direction, making it hard for myself.
Perhaps that’s what my new doodles are about. I have no idea where they are going but I know they are going to take me somewhere that I’ve not been to before. Just as I knew that when I started writing this blog - all those posts ago - that it would take me somewhere. I still don’t know why I do those drawings and mostly the making of them is – well not unconscious, but always semi-conscious. Perhaps it is the wine.
Well, this isn’t working is it? Nothing much coming out at all, not that I want it to. I’d rather wander than come out with what’s on my mind. I’d rather trudge on head down, staring at my feet and telling myself everything is okay when it isn’t. It isn’t okay at all – and I can’t do much about it. Not without losing what little of myself I’ve managed to salvage.
The wind’s at my back now. It’s blowing cold. I’m just going to take a look in that church over there. Have a sit for a bit, rest up, think, stop and see what I can come up with. Best you go your own way now. See you later.
Thursday, 22 December 2011
A change is coming. A change has come.
The question is - will this change make a difference? I ponder this as I paint my glass, drag out my words, splash my paint and prick my fingers; will that change make a difference?
My heart of hearts is a secret place. There’s darkness there and the pumping of blood, anger, hurt, and even good old-fashioned sentiment – but love?
I look in the mirror at a person I don’t know and listen to me heart of hearts pumping away and away and away, beating an answer in fleshy flaccid Morse.
Anyway, what I only felt has come about. It won’t change anything. It can’t change me. I’ll never be what I’m expected to be no matter what these old or new humans call me and expect. And why should I? I am just me. So you don’t like it? So what! All the stereotypical, rose tint in the world – gold shoes or not – don’t matter a whole hill of beans - I'm me. Keep you messages and vendettas. Make all the empty people choose sides. Who cares?
Not me. It’ll make no difference. It’s gone too far. The corner has been turned and I don’t see behind me anymore. Beat on my heart. Beat on.
Monday, 19 December 2011
I am the machine. Dreaming of electric sheep – one, baaaa – beep... two, baaaa – beep. ..three, baaaa – beep.
I am the machine. Behatted in my dunce's cap, my thought and feelings all funnelled away by life.
I am the machine. The ghost of Christmas past and oh so many other things so also past.
I am the machine. Conveyor belt of glass and joy and smiles, and if a machine could feel good about itself. I would.
But at least I’m the machine of my own making. Willingly doing what I do because I want to, and not because anyone is telling me.
And - More – So – Each – Day – That – Passes.
Machines can’t be told you see. They just do,
Of course there’s a flaw in my programming.
If only I were the Tin Man this wouldn’t be a problem. But never a day goes by without regret, remembering, but most of all resolve.
I AM the machine and I SHALL remain so.
Machines can’t have feelings but sometimes, late on into the evening air when my cogs stop turning and my pistons halt - I wish my heart would stop its beating.
Machines can’t have feelings but sometimes, late on into the evening air when my cogs stop turning and my pistons halt - I wish my heart would stop its beating.
Sunday, 18 December 2011
I don’t mind. At least machines don’t have feelings and without feelings you can’t get hurt.
Christmas, one lost and another regained, bloody bloody.
Yes, late night cutting and splashing - and I have big plans for it next year - another year of trying new things then. Pity she won’t see it.
Yes, I am the machine, so I’ll rage against myself. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
The doodle will have to follow. I’m off to make it now.
Saturday, 17 December 2011
This year though, circumstance, fate, and the calling of the glass have conspired against me to keep us at home – and I’m really looking forward to it.
Not that I don’t enjoy Christmas in Wales. I do, very much. But this year I think I need the security old memories bring and the warmth that is given by a roaring log fire, maybe they’ll even be a cricket in the hearth.
Home is a big old rambling place. It needs a bit of attention in places and maybe a bit of a de-clutter (I’m a magpie you see), but generally it isn’t so bad and I love it particularly at Christmas time.
The best Christmas that I can remember was spent here in this house. My Mum, Dad, Sister Caroline and her family came to stay. We cranked up the wholly inadequate heating and filled all the sparish rooms with blow up beds - even the office in the cellar.
On Christmas afternoon after a fabulous dinner we all gathered - me, Caroline, Gary, Mum, Dad, Alex, Camilla, Gaynor, Holly, and Frank and Joan - in the upstairs lounge and had an afternoon concert. Everyone did a turn. Holly put on a puppet show, Alex played his violin, Frank recited a poem, and I sang a version of ‘What do we do with a drunken sailor’ substituting the names of all around until everyone had been covered and made a fool of. I made it up as I went along – it was a triumph!
All very A Christmas Carol - but such fun.
This Christmas will be a little quieter I guess. Mum and Dad are in Australia, I haven’t seen Caroline, Gary and family for a while, and poor old Frank (the eternal soldier) died a few years back. It’ll just be me, Gaynor, Holly and Joan.
But we’ll have some fun I hope.
Maybe I’ll get the puppets out anyway.
Friday, 16 December 2011
Fumbling my way downstairs I noticed that special light through the glass of the front door. The snow light. And with it that crisp silence when everything is slightly deadened by the whiteness all around.
Cars hardly make a sound. Grammar boys on their way to school are muted for once.
It wasn’t much of a fall, just enough to put a frosting on my hedge, like icing upon a Christmas cake - but enough.
I wonder what is to come.
Thursday, 15 December 2011
Gaynor’s fortieth birthday treat, a magical day Holly, and the realisation of a boyhood dream for me.
It was probably the most extravagant thing I’ve ever done; we were up at five, into our thermal underwear, taxied to the airport and flown across the North Sea to snowy Lapland for the day.
The snow at Kittila airport was unbelievable, deep and thick and even as the carol goes, we could feel the cold as we walked to the changing area to get kitted up in our snowsuits and boots. Layer after layer we pulled on. Holly in a bright red quilted suit and Gaynor in blue. Mine was black I think.
Then off in a snow-chained coach for the adventure of a lifetime.
In just a few hours we managed to squeeze in Reindeer sleighing, tobogganing, snowball fighting, skidoo racing, we even built a snowman. Then as evening came it was off to Santa’s chalet to meet the man himself.
I remember being a little disappointed when we got there. The place looked like just any other farm. But then I noticed the line of Christmas trees all aglow with lights, and the stables where we found Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen, carefully munching on hay.
What was I expecting? Disneyland? This was Santa’s home. It was real. It had to be practical.
The chalet itself was very cosy, log walls and chintz, roaring fires and paintings of elves on the walls. Santa sat in a room just off the hallway, so we waited for out turn to see the great man. At last we were ushered in and Holly told the red-suited figure what she wanted for Christmas, then we said goodbye and were ushered out.
Not even time for me to tell him what I wanted or to ask him how come I’d never got that Lone Ranger gun belt with the two pearl handled pistols and twenty silver bullets – and no photographer to take a picture, how aptly strange.
Back on the plane and in the air I caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights high in the sky in the distance. The aurora borealis - flashing its green as it waved me goodbye.
The dream was over - almost as if it had never taken place. Cold, hearts, and the aurora borealis…wishes to ashes.
And no photograph.
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
My dad couldn't help but say it whenever I came up with one of my ideas or plans.
“Yes, and pigs might fly.” He’d say.
Pigs might fly - a humourous/sarcastic remark, used to indicate the unlikeliness of some event or to mock the credulity of others; for example, "I might make a start on papering the back bedroom tomorrow". "Yes, and pigs might fly" – and indeed they might. I can’t remember the last time I papered a back bedroom.
Anyway, some of us know that pigs can fly. After all, the newspapers keep talking about 'swine flu' (sorry).
'Pigs might fly', or as some would have it 'pigs may fly', is an example of an adynaton, that is, a figure of speech that uses inflated comparison to such an extent as to suggest complete impossibility. Other examples are 'It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle...' and 'Make a mountain out of a molehill'. Both of which I have done, much to the discomfort of the camel and it was a bloody big molehill in the first place – and you should have seen the size of that mole.
Why pigs? Well other creatures have appeared in similar phrases - 'snails may fly', 'cows might fly' and we all know about Dumbo the elephant… “I’ve seen a horse fly”, but it is pigs have stood the test of time probably because they are both cute and pink, like porky angels.
Lewis Carroll brought up the subject in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865:
"I've a right to think," said Alice sharply... "Just about as much right," said the Duchess, "as pigs have to fly."
Then in 1909, in a humorous attempt (in the way the French find poo humerous) to prove that pigs can take to the air, the pioneer aviator Baron Brabazon of Tara, better known to his friends as John Theodore Cuthbert Moore Brabazon, took a piglet aloft in his private biplane, strapped into a wastepaper basket – a man after my own heart it would seem - mad as a choir of squirrels.
“Pigs might fly” my dad would say whenever I had one of my ideas or plans.
“Pigs might fly.”
And for a while, over the years, I guess they did. Who’d have thought that a kid like me would have had the life I’ve had. Of course it isn’t quite like it was at the moment but I’m still hopeful that I might catch a glimpse of the occasional flying pig.
Yes, my pigs may fly again.
Monday, 12 December 2011
Sunday, 11 December 2011
I was almost off to bed when I was struck by the urge to scribble.
I don’t know why. It just happens that way sometimes, like an itch that keeps moving until you have scratched most of the skin from your shoulders and back leaving you bleeding.
To be honest though it had been a long day at the glass face and I really couldn’t be arsed, itch or no itch.
But then the blue pencil crayon that had been lurking on the kitchen work surface watching me all evening was in my hand and my scrap book opened almost of it’s own accord. Yes, I have a book now, I’m progressing. The crayon frenetically scratched a couple of ovals onto the surface and the pink felt tip from the pound shop packet flew and flurried its pink on the paper.
Wet ink thrown here, a squiggle of silver straight from the tube there, and in less than five minutes there it was, or rather there they were.
Mother and child.
I’ve no idea why, they're not for me you see. I don’t believe and the last thing I want to spend my time doodling, when really I want to be asleep, are schmaltzy, sentimental, Christmas cardy drawings of mothers and babies, holy or not.
I still did it though – scribbled and blew and splashed - guilty as charged m'lord.
I wonder why?
Perhaps it wasn’t for me at all.
Perhaps it was for someone else. For them maybe, or perhaps it was for you.
Saturday, 10 December 2011
So today was our Victorian Christmas day – mulled wine, mince pies, pianist and cello, and costumes.
So here I am all the Victorian shopkeeper. Bowler hatted, bow tied, all be braced, aproned, moustachioed - and with a pillow that’s taken me years to grow stuffed up my shirt.
I just love dressing up.
Well even the glass meister has to let his hair down sometimes.
Friday, 9 December 2011
My mum and dad have flown off to
This is the picture she took whilst waiting for them to come off the plane and when my mum saw her she didn't recognise her and told Della to 'Take care' ... She thought she was off the plane! Well, it’s a long flight and she’s as dotty as a polka dot frock anyway, but what a funny thing.
And talking of funny things, here’s another. I miss them already even though we usually only communicate by phone, annoying each other with our separate conversations, my dad calling in the back, my mum relaying messages that I’ve already heard (he has a loud voice).
And here’s another funny thing. I never worry about them when they are home (well not often) but I’m already worrying now that they are so far away. What if this should happen? What if that should happen?
And the funniest thing at all?
I didn’t expect to feel this way.
Sets me to thinking, but I don’t want to go there just yet, not for many, many years. Not at all really but I know that one day I’ll have to.
Anyway down safe after a long journey, have a great time mum and dad, missing you and see you soon. Take care!
Thursday, 8 December 2011
It wasn’t the light that got him.
Of course he was attracted to it. After all, light is like the moon - and as each moth knows one must follow one’s mothy heart and fly towards the silvery glimmer.
But no it wasn't the light. It wasn’t the light at all. It was the reflection of the light in the water of the sink drainer tray; and flying directly toward and into it he drowned.
Maybe we are all moths, flying towards the light only to find that we are mistaken, drowning in a sea of glimmer rather than being content with the everyday dullness that is our discontentment.
Poor moth, he was only looking for a little excitement and found extinction instead.
Look how he shines though.
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Oh little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie.
Jesus and Mary and angels and shepherds and that stuck on real straw in the scribbled manger, a halo of tinfoil around the baby Jesus' head.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
And then there was the making of Christmas cards to take home to our mums on the last day of term. Santa's and snowmen and reindeer and stars and those badly drawn camels with one, two, even three humps. "happy Cristmas mum - joy to the wold!"
Yet in the dark street sh-i-i-i-ineth the everlasting light.
Last day and the taking home of the Christmas tree decorations and paper chains, carefully coloured and gummed, fluffily festooned with cotton wool snow and smiles.
Pine trees, snow, and dark.
Life, love, and hope.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Sunday, 4 December 2011
"To market, to market, to buy a fat pig."
Altrincham Craft and Vintage Market on a wet and freezing Sunday morning. Up at six to bake the candle glasses, loading the car in the pouring rain, unpacking and arranging the stall.
"My life is one demd horrid grind."
Yes, sometimes I feel like a character in a Dickens novel. Just which character changes dependent on circumstance – Brushywig the glass painter, Coinscrew the trader, old Mr. Potty the eccentric (some say madman). At least I'm not an Abel Magwich, or at least I don't think I am.
Today I was a combination of all those first three as I stood behind my stall purveying my wares, doing deals and up-selling to make the merchandise move.
I didn’t do great and I didn’t do badly, I really enjoyed the catching of interest though. Not a bad day at all, all-in-all.
"Home again, home again, jiggety-jig."
Saturday, 3 December 2011
So I decide to make a picture and tell the world on Facebook. Well, not decide exactly, kind of have to.
I set out with my paper and pens with really no idea where this is going and then, after thirty or forty minutes, sometimes far less, of splashing and scratching, pouring and scribbling, I have something - although often at the end of it I have no idea what.
These days though, it doesn’t matter.
Gone are the days of pouring over paper and landscape, slavishly trying to copy the light and shade. I don’t and can’t do that anymore. I’m seeing things differently. I’m making my own light and shade. Or it is making me.
Anyway, it just happens. Thank God.
It’s all there you know, it’s all there if you look - the clowns and the conundrums, the leaves and the leavings, the tears and the blood to make any number of me.
What would Charlie have said? ’Look after your hands boy; they have a talent inside them.’
Maybe. Or maybe it wasn’t the hands, maybe it was the life – mewling, pushing me over and over so many times that eventually I just had to let it out.
Anyway, it just happens. Thank God.
So here it is; the lengthening of the autumn days. Here it all is at almost winter. Well formed upon the page with leaves and sun and moon and shadow and all bright red - and my pricked thumbed autumnal blood.
You work it out. I can’t. It just happens. But it’s all there if you care to look.
Yes. It just happens.
Friday, 2 December 2011
Just look who I found spinning his web and crawling across the old latch of my kitchen window this morning. What a magnificent orange, and just look at those wonderful stripy legs. I wonder what team he supports?