The End, Beginning 201906232133

The fading evening sky hides

The blur of moving trees

In the distance, bright points of light

Like diamonds gleam

Through the tunnel, a rushing sound

A city and appears and then it is gone

Without a sound

My chair travels fast without moving

The minutes pass with every mile

The end is our beginning [o]

Fortune Cookie Fun

I recently bought a copy of the excellent book “642 Things To Write About” by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Today’s challenge is simple – “Write 10 sayings for fortune cookies”

So that’s what I’m going to do. No fancy photographs today. Just words.

Yes, gentlemen and ladies and gentlemen, today, I shall be a fortune cookie writer!
Here’s a little bit of whimsy to pass the time

“You will find your fortune in a cookie”

“You will receive a tax rebate this week”

“Your noodles were overcooked today – next time, free one”

“Free coin awaits you in phone box”

“Your credit card has been declined – again!”

“The sun shines on your second property in the Cayman Islands”

“This cookie has been left blank on purpose”

“You are our favourite customer”

“A tall, dark, handsome stranger you will meet – go on diet soon!”

“No fortune today – come back tomorrow” 

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Here’s a drawing I made of a plate of fortune cookies.
Magnificent, isn’t it?

(…yes yes, I admit it does look like something drawn by a 4 year-old but aren’t we all?)


“Psyche….You’re Such A Drama Queen!”

While we wait, here’s something to tide us over.

Next picture in 3…2…1…

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December 2018, afternoon.

I walk slowly through the large rooms of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. It is quiet today and the sun is shining outside. It is nice to be indoors and warm.

My first impulse on seeing this painting by Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre is to chuckle. And then to point my camera. And then to take a picture, set to f/2.8, 1/750, ISO-3200.

In today’s world of soundbites and memes, this masterpiece seems to beg for a suitable caption with which to travel around the world, bringing joy and merriment as it bounces along handheld devices and LED screens.

And yet, the mythical scene depicted here is anything but amusing. Psyche is abandoned by her lover Cupid and tries to drown herself.

She is rescued at the last minute by water nymphs, or naiads.

As with much mythology, digging deeper into the roots of the story leaves one on somewhat shaky ground.

Psyche is being punished, it would appear, for being beautiful and Cupid accidentally fell in love with her by being pricked by his own arrow when he was on an errand by his jealous mother, Venus, to punish Psyche for being beautiful and causing people to offer their sacrifices to her – rather than Venus – and to call [Psyche] the second incarnation of Venus.

(If you will, Venus 2.0)

And Cupid didn’t abandon her so much as he ran away when his identity was discovered by Psyche as her curiosity got the better of her and she decided to disobey his instructions he had given that she was not to shine a light on him under any circumstances during his nocturnal visits while he kept her in a palace in the sky…and yet she did just that, after being goaded on to do so by her jealous sisters who sowed the seeds of doubt about her lover by reminding her that it was suggested by the oracle who her father met with that she would be betrothed to a fire-breathing dragon creature… as one does.

(…wait, what?)

So, as part of her redemption, Venus demands that Psyche perform a series of impossible – ok, probably hard to do – tasks. But her heart’s not into it and she’s dealing with these difficult emotions of having Cupid leave her. So she figures that she’ll let herself go, and drown in the river she’s been told to cross because… quite frankly, life’s just not worth living without winged hotties.

She seems rather unconcerned at being rescued, by the way.

But rescued she is all the same by those busy-body naiads. You know them – the one’s who hang around by the water cooler. Or fountain. They probably don’t have much work to do this afternoon. This is the highlight of their day.

The story ends well – for a mythical tale, that is. She suffers a bit more and then gets immortality and a proper wedding to Cupid and everything is happily ever after.

But back to the painting.

Despair has never looked so…. melodramatic!

Jean-Baptiste deftly captures the scene on canvas with a pleasing colour palette of blues and greens for the background and drawing us in with the reds and shades of white of her outfit. It is a balanced composition with Psyche placed in the centre of the frame and the four female naiads all around her.

This sense of balance exists within the lighting applied to the subjects – each is brightly illuminated against the dim background but there are no harsh shadows to be found here.

We are gently reminded of the rays of hope that can often be found illuminating our way, even in our darkest hour.

An allegory for our world today.

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On The Side Of A Bus

I’ve decided what this blog is going to be about.

It’ll be a space to discuss and share some of the complexities of life I have grappled with over the years.

Deep existential questions.

“What is the purpose of life?”
“Why are we here?”
“What is love?”
“Who finished the milk and left the empty bottle in the fridge?”

But seeing as people way smarter [than me] have spent much longer deliberating on these puzzles and the answers continue to elude us all, I’ve taken the decision that perhaps we can start by looking at simpler things.

So here’s the plan.

I’ll take a photo that I took before and take the time to tell you a bit about it.
Then I’ll try and smuggle in some of my thoughts-in-process that could end up being half-baked theories, well seasoned with child-like naivety.
If I’m feeling really inspired, I might chuck in a poem as well.

Ready? 3…2…1…

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This picture was taken in the middle of central London, at Piccadilly Circus, on a bright and sunny autumn afternoon. Which in England means it was not raining.

Regent Street was closed off to vehicles, people wandered freely on the road, making agreeable noises about the weather, pushing prams and herding their offspring, purchasing a variety of products from smiling salesmen and staring at their phones.

I mingled inconspicuously with the crowd, eyes peeled, looking for a suitable subject to photograph when it hit me.

(…actually it didn’t hit me. It rode in front of me. And it’d have had to hit a lot of people before it got to me. But I digress).

A giant bus draped in advertising decals – striking patterns, bright colours and vivid imagery. A bold message promising that a change to market-leading sports footwear would lead to a dominant re-framing of [the wearer’s] world.

(Think Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz but with way more street cred).

*Sigh* If only life were that simple…

I have to admit that advertising can be very effective in grabbing our attention and directing our actions. It’s just that we’re often being distracted by things that aren’t really that… meaningful.

Things like stuff.

Stuff to wear.
Stuff to have.
Stuff to put our stuff in.
Stuff to move our stuff around.
Stuff to keep our stuff safe while we’re out buying more stuff.

But what if we could use advertising to improve our collective sense of worth?

What if we could be constantly reminded of the things that make us human, the things that unite us? The hidden beauty in our world? The great truths of life and the wisdom of the sages?

What if we could look up every now and again from our smartphones are be reminded that we are all one?

And all this without being sold to?

The shared cultural experiences that were prevalent in the past are becoming rarer with each passing day. We are social creatures and have created online platforms and networks to address our need for social interaction. Unfortunately, online communities can’t replicate the sense of togetherness that one gets from sharing the same physical space as another.

Our theatres, playhouses, museums… are all working harder than ever to attract and hold the attention of younger generations. But I suspect the real issue is how to generate a natural curiosity that drives individuals to find out more about the arts, philosophy and life itself.

As with many things, it may be counter-intuitive.
It may be much simpler than we think.

To get people to come to us, we stop chasing them.
We stop selling our brand to them.

We take what we have and we give it away.

Perhaps a picture of an inspirational piece of art.
Or a poem, a quote, a phrase….

For someone to see for the first time.
(Along with everyone standing nearby)

Making its way slowly moving through traffic.
Emblazoned in large letters.

On the side of a bus.

Life Is A Potato

Today is a good day to start.

Technically, today is tomorrow’s yesterday.

Which would imply that if I procrastinated this decision yesterday,
Saying “I will do it tomorrow”,
Then today would be the day to do it.

It is almost midnight so if I don’t post this now,
Then I will be doing so tomorrow,
Which would be yesterday’s tomorrow’s tomorrow.

And that wouldn’t make any sense.

Life is a potato.

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