The Year Of Truth – 1st January 2023

Is this the year that truth may be heard
Instead of a story being sold?
Is everyone prepared to stand by their word
In order that the truth may be told?

If you are not happy it’s your own fault.

Ivan Alexyevitch, A Happy Man by Anton Checkov

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and relaxed
Today I’m grateful for:
The people at Dasa Books in Bangkok for allowing me a few days’ grace with ordering books as I wait to get paid. I’m finding lots of interesting bits and pieces and look forward to reading more this year.
The best thing about today was:
Playing with the two little kids in the restaurant at lunchtime. They were super cute and engaging and entertained the other customers and the kid’s parents who were the owners. As it was a buffet Amy and her mum and dad could stay longer and eat drink and talk more. Everyone was happy with clown Shaun, the child carer.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Almost everything got disrupted today. We took Tigger to get a shower at the professionals but twenty minutes later they called us to come and get him because they were scared Tigger would bite them. Never mind. Amy wanted to try and clean him straight away but I said no cos I know how much trouble it’s going to be and soon we were supposed to be going out for lunch with Amy’s mum and dad. We were still waiting at midday so Amy called her mum and found out her dad was sleeping. We were getting hungry and told them to hurry up. Finally, they came and we went to the restaurant and Amy and her dad got drunk. Amy had planned an evening out but that was cancelled after Nan’s father passed away last night so instead we were off to the first night of the funeral. Even that, finishing quite quickly I was hopeful to be home in good time but Amy wanted to eat again so we’re here now at a khao tom restaurant. But I feel fine with everything, able to go with the flow much easier than before. And driving home felt smooth and relaxing like I was manipulating a video game. I wonder what it is that made this day ok for me but others not so much. Enough water, something I ate, enough sleep or the cool weather? I wish I knew.
Something I learned today?
From watching the Little Chinese Everywhere YouTube channel I followed Yan to Antakya in Turkey and learned that the people there (like anywhere I guess) are curious and friendly. There was French and Syrian influence as well as a mix of religions and so it was I learned that this city used to be called Antioch. Perhaps tomorrow I will learn what the Antioch Arrow was…?
What goal would you like to accomplish this year?
I’d like to recover my fitness and still get to 75kg this year. Having covid seems to have set me back on this in 2022… or I’m using that as an excuse. I think I’m getting a little less tired now though it seems to catch up with me by the end of each week. I hope to push on through again, get back into the routine and exercise habit again.

Amy took this picture because I asked her to and also because it’s not easy for me to see what these tattoos look like. Anyway, the idea was to post a picture on the Nomeansno Facebook group but my post was declined because I don’t have a picture in my user id. I haven’t had one for a couple of years now since cutting back on using FB and I do understand the reason the group rules require users to have pictures but still I was looking forward to showing off. Haha. I also realised that this tattoo is now ten years old already. I also wanted this picture because I’m considering getting the dancing punk covered up with the cover art from the Birthday Party’s Junkyard and wanted to see how feasible it might be. Also, if it is what I actually want.

The Lighthouse – 6th December 2022

A beacon on the horizon
Rising, falling, yet steady there
A signpost to miseries and glories
A pointer beyond the despair
The building, empty and derelict
Though still overflowing
The chill of winters, the pungent springs
The always knowing
Out to sea the future beckons
Dive into the turgid squall
The past is a rhythm dead
So heed the siren’s call

Direction > Speed. Doesn’t matter if you are moving slow or fast, if you are moving in the wrong direction, you are fucked.

Aditi review of Last Gang in Town: The Story and Myth of the Clash by Marcus Gray

Excellent book for me. I like the Clash a lot but didn’t know much about their history before now. After reading this book I can feel that I perhaps bought into the Clash ‘myth’ more than I’d expected. After reading a slew of rock biographies, mostly about people that were interesting but not necessarily whom I had any respect for, I guess I should have been prepared to find out that these mythological punks were all too human.

Whatever! It’s all done and dusted and I remember the sight, sound, and feel of the pedestal I had them up on!

I found the post-Clash chapters interesting too, as most of the band seemed to struggle with finding their identities after the breakup, and everyone, including themselves, wondered about what could have been.

Today I’m feeling:
Relaxed and tired because of cocktails and pizza indigestion keeping me up throughout the night and then a 5.30 wake up to catch our flight.
Today I’m grateful for:
The two homeroom teachers who (probably) helped push my students to do the work I left for them as I wasn’t at school today. I think about 80% of them did it which was a pleasant surprise.
The best thing about today was:
Getting decent coffee again back in Chiang Rai (at Utopia) and finishing the Clash book and starting an Iggy Pop book. The last of the unread books there for me before I have to start bringing my own again.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Late afternoon and Amy gets Kim Chi up from her current sleeping spot in the walk-in. Kim is still limping on her back right leg and we agreed she needed to go to the vet but with only one car again it was going to be difficult to arrange whilst I’m at school so despite being tired and chilled at home I suggested we go right away otherwise it would have to be on the weekend when we already have a long day trip to Lampang planned on Sunday. In spite of it being school let-out time, I enjoyed the drive to Dr Arnon and back and he doesn’t think there is anything seriously wrong with Kim’s leg and just gave her some painkillers. I was also able to buy some snacks to take for Tokyo at House so that worked out ok.
Something I learned today?
Following on from yesterday, according to another survey, Chiang Rai is the lowest-paid province in Thailand. It made me wonder if the two facts about Chiang Rai are connected. Does drinking decrease as a place prospers? If Chiang Rai folks were paid more would they drink more?
When are you most spontaneous?
I’m not spontaneous much at all these days I don’t think so I would say this would be in my classes when I might add in some things around the lessons I’m teaching. I do miss the days of spontaneity but am also happy with the way I am now too. I’m well-organised and my brain suits that better than being spontaneous as I’m not always good at predicting possible outcomes.

I took this picture yesterday at the Hilton in Phuket because wtf is a peacock doing here just wondering around!?

One Thing – 5th December 2022

It’s all you have, there’s nothing else
All you held are old dusty dreams
It’s the time you are alive, this one thing
The only possession that is what it seems

Every moment wasted on the dramas of others subtracts from your strength.

Robert Greene

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and carefree despite still having to organise things for my students for tomorrow’s classes.
Today I’m grateful for:
The rental car company and for being able to drive around Phuket at leisure and without worry.
The best thing about today was:
Today has been steadily great. Right now we’re in the Hilton restaurant at the beach with free-flow alcohol. Good for Amy! This morning we had delicious brunch at another beach, along with Aing, after dropping Fern and Harper at the airport. Everything went super smoothly timing-wise and Amy and I drove back by the scenic beaches route with a quick circuit of Patong just as a reminder of being there 10 years ago. The lovely hotel we stayed at that time has been abandoned since, probably due to the pandemic, but there were lots of new ones and many foreign tourists around as expected. After dropping Amy back at Pim’s I went off book shopping and picked up one book I was looking for and another three by Studs Turkel, who I’ve never heard of, but was fascinated by the name and an approval from Kurt Vonnegot on the back cover of one. Awesome, even with the heavy rain.
Something I learned today?
According to surveys, Chiang Rai is the drunkest province in Thailand. Not sure how this was measured and it must be pretty serious as everywhere in Thailand loves a drink.
What are some of the challenges you face?
My biggest challenges at the moment probably revolve around health. I need to lose a little weight again and build up some stamina but seem to be suffering a little from what may be long covid. I get breathless and exhausted easily. I have aching hips and a painful neck, weak arms with painful elbows. I should focus a little bit of extra effort on maintenance in the next few months.

I took this picture because it was good timing for us to be dropping Fern to the airport near where Aing lives and Aing has a day off today so we could treat her to lunch. The food was great and the beach was good too.

Youthful Idealism – 10th October 2022

Where’s my youthful idealism?
I fucking want it back
Now I’m old and tired
I’d rather just hit the sack
Why am I not shouting?
Thinking to make change
Wanting the best for everyone
Surely is not so strange
When did I give up?
Did I just get distracted?
Now I’ve got what I want
And I’m no longer impacted
Where’s your youthful idealism?
Why aren’t you complaining?
My life is almost over
But yours is still remaining

How to stop time: kiss.
How to travel in time: read.
How to escape time: music.
How to feel time: write.

Matt Haig, Reasons To Stay Alive

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and on holiday
Today I’m grateful for:
The men who cleaned my bike. I know I could have done it myself but I wouldn’t have been so thorough.
The best thing about today was:
Getting some more blog stuff done whilst listening to music. Also finishing another book. I still look at my bookshelf with joyful anticipation for future reading.

Do you owe someone money? Does someone owe you?
I don’t owe money to anyone or any institutions. I am debt free.

I guess some people do owe my money but it’s in the past and doesn’t amount to much in the scheme of things.

I generally live by the rule that if you lend someone twenty dollars and never see them again then it was probably worth it.

Of course, I loaned out much more substantial amounts to bands in the past and mostly managed to chase down outstanding amounts.

If I loan or lend anyone money now, which is rare, I don’t expect to see it again but happy if it does get repaid. This is only because I am now financially secure. Let’s hope it stays that way.

I took this picture because this is the cleanest I have seen my bike since buying it. It was worth the 45 baht expense!

Rolling In – 22nd September 2022

The bird in the limes whoops
‘Here comes the rain’
Ants busy themselves in relocation
Coming inside again
At each gust the bough twists
Fruit falls to the ground
A flash to signal cats
To hide from the oncoming sound
Low breaths hanging dark
Pushed frantically apace
Rapid gunfire hits the sheets
Falling around this place
The frogs shout out their pleasure
The cats, a-sleeping, wait
Again the birds are whooping
As the worms turn toward their fate

What we become depends on what we read after all the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.

Thomas Carlyle

Today I’m feeling:
Tired but content
Today I’m grateful for:
My students at least seeming to understand what it is I want from them in class. They lose their bravado when having to talk with me one to one.
The best thing about today was:
Finishing classes early and being able to come home and have a sort of nap whilst listening to Sebka Chott, with Cap alongside me.

I took this picture because I love finding drawings of me in my student’s books. Some of these kids are quite talented.

The Week That Was – 16th December 1979

Brand New Day – 17th September 2022

Are you awake to the stirrings of the earth?
A bright day is born every morning
If you don’t give it the value that it is worth
The kingdoms will start to issue forth their warning
Save me now so you may save yourself
Sun is shining somewhere no matter what you say
The noose is getting tighter, not for anyone else
But they all wish to see the same brand-new day

You become what you give your attention to…If you yourself don’t choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will.


Today I’m grateful for:
Dasa Books having another sale. I picked up a couple that got delivered today.
The best thing about today was:
Riding around new villages and discovering new places and paths. There were also fresh smells to enjoy on the cold damp air.

I took this picture because, despite the dullness of the light, the green of the rice amongst the brown water against the mountains and cloudy sky stood out to me as a picture of a beautiful day.

Marginalia – 29th August 2022

A Russian writer in a Dublin bar
Took a metaphor way too far
The idiot brother spent the day
Conjuring up their words at play
Newspeak made them more afraid
And on the farm, a price was paid
Conch holders soon made no sound
As Alexandria’s library burned to the ground
A plague, a joke, the man outside
Tall tales of prejudice and pride
Repeated and replaced with robots, I
Struggle with two suns in the sky

Isn’t it conceivable a person wants to be a decent human being because that way he feels better.

Isaac Asimov
I took this picture because these two kept me company for a little while this morning on my walk. They looked like they were trying to kill each other but all the while wagging their tails and jumping up to run off again.

The Week That Was – 11th November 1979

Beat Up – 21st August 2022

I love a beat-up book
With edges all creased
More than a clean fresh one
Just released
Passages often underlined
Notes along the margin
Give me a beat-up book
Gotten as a bargain
Well-thumbed and faded
But pages all intact
A beat-up book is the best
And that’s a fact!

Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end.

Bob Marley

Lighthouses – 16th July 2022

Who’s gonna care for you?
Who will show the way?
Who will find the light
When the sun descends each day?
A child to be exploited
Manipulated and prostituted
Bad choices made with mirrors
Doors shut, firmly booted
Who’s gonna guide you?
Point to the right direction
A childhood to be wasted
Staring at its reflection
Dark fingers will be clawing
Promises made with gold
Sorrow is your struggle
Before you get too old

And then I find a book that I really love, and I talk about it for a while so I won’t seem like I hate everything. In other words, I hate everything!

Matthilda Bertstein Sycamore