If you are reading these words thanks for sticking around.
It’s been nearly two months since anything new appeared here. My apologies for that.
You deserve an explanation.
I’ll try to give one.
It’s eleven years almost to the day since I cut the first piece of plywood in ‘Gleda’s’ construction.
Tonight will be my 1304th consecutive night sleeping aboard her. Three years, six months and twenty-three days to be precise.
Eleven years ago I revived a dream.
The Universe knows how hard I worked to bring that dream back.
But my goals were clear. To build a boat. To make her a home. To escape.
The first two have been achieved.
‘Gleda’ is afloat and functioning as a sailboat.
After that, it was a given that she’d be a home for me.
What’s more amazing is that she’s a home for Gail too. She’s back in the UK at the moment. She told me on Skype last night that she’s looking forward to coming home.
There was a time when neither of us could imagine those words being said. Certainly not in relation to pieces of plywood glued together in a damp cold barn.
That leaves the third goal; To escape. What about that?
1982 – Dire Straits, Telegraph Road (Love Over Gold Album)
“Just stay with me baby and I’ll take you away. From out of this darkness and into the day. From these rivers of headlights, these rivers of rain. From the anger that lives on these streets with these names”.
Well, she stayed and we did it.
We’ve escaped many things. The weather. The cold, the rain, the gloom. That’s huge for me.
As is escaping TV and CCTV. Tabloid newspapers. Health & Safety. Shopping centres. Crowds. Traffic jams and other varieties of bullshit.
Don’t get me wrong. There are a few things I miss about the old country.
The green fields, the woods, the history, the pubs, the sound of leather on willow on a summers afternoon.
But those picture postcard memories are fading with each passing year.
The Brexit vote came as another axe blow to the last few roots of my Britishness.
Maybe it’s for the best. Make Britain Great again is right up there with Make America Great again in my book.
If this is the ‘new normal’ then I want no part of it.
Yes, we’ve broken free of a lot. But some things can’t be escaped.
I fear the world has gone past the tipping point. Global warming, migration, plastic in the oceans, over-population. An ever-increasing list of planetary problems that our so-called ‘leaders’ continue to ignore.
Even if that changed tomorrow it’s probably too late.
Earlier in the year, I wrote about the migrant crisis.
It was hard to do. It had repercussions. It caused me hurt. It impacted on me personally but made not a jot of difference to the subject matter.
It left me wondering.
Why do that to myself?
Just a few weeks ago hundreds of desperate Algerians arrived here in Cartagena.
They’d been rescued from a fleet of barely afloat rubber boats just offshore.
The authorities set up a temporary tented reception camp. It was on the Naval dock just across the harbour from ‘Gleda’.
Convoys of Guardia Civil vans and Cruz Roja ambulances passed by just behind us. Sirens wailing.
Plenty of folks around here know about the migrant crisis. So do many farther afield.
I don’t need to tell them.
From time to time bad things cross our paths.
You’d think we’d try and avoid them as much as possible.
But no. We’ve all been conditioned to read/watch/listen to the ‘news’. This ‘news’ is never good.
This ‘news’ is always about suffering and hate. Lives lost, families destroyed, financial ruin, natural disasters.
All the evils of the world brought straight to your living room.
Elements of the print media are worse. The world is burning and they’re pumping petrol into the flames. Laughing as they do it.
1989 – Chris Rea, You Must Be Evil (Road To Hell Album)
“I come home from work. I see my little girl. She’s crying on the floor. She’s been watching that TV. This ain’t late no, this ain’t even dinner time. To show them things on that screen. What’s wrong with you? You must be evil”
I used the word ‘conditioned’ just now.
Maybe I should have used ‘brainwashed’.
Millions of deep down decent people in the U.S.A voting for an ignorant narcissist with the attention span of a fruit fly to be their President.
Millions of intelligent people in the U.K voted to start a potentially catastrophic ‘let’s leave Europe’ process. That decision was made despite a complete lack of meaningful information and with no guarantee that any benefit would be gained.
In both cases, it seems obvious that fear and frustration played a huge part.
The roots of that fear and frustration? News media.
Does ‘brainwashed’ seem too strong a word now?
Democracy is dangerous when a large percentage of the population makes choices driven by media fuelled fear and outright lies.
So what has all this got to do with my blogging?
It’s relevant because I’ve come to a decision.
It’s a decision that many might think selfish and uncaring. They may be right.
But it’s a decision I have to make.
The world is going to hell in a handcart and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.
I could watch rolling news 24/7. I could blog daily about what’s wrong with the world. I could fight.
But it wouldn’t change a thing.
The only world I can have any influence on is my own.
I talked about escape earlier. But I know it’s impossible.
Maybe at some point before I die I’ll live on a desert island somewhere, completely self-sufficient, completely isolated.
But I’d still be on the planet. Trump and Kim Jong could start lobbing nuclear missiles at each other anytime. There’ll always be a Trump and a Kim Jong.
No, I can’t opt-out completely.
What I can do is be selective.
I can take what I need and ignore the rest.
I can focus my time and attention on what’s good and ignore what’s bad.
My time on this planet is running out. If the Universe is kind I’ve got perhaps 20 years left to roam and another 10 to do what I can.
That’s not long for what I’ve got in mind.
I can’t afford to waste it on things that don’t make me happy.
It doesn’t make me happy to write about what’s wrong with the world.
Nor does it make me happy to write about day to day life when not a lot happens.
Almost a year ago I made the decision that we’d stay put in Cartagena until April 2018. I grandly announced my pretentiously named 15-month project.
It had three main goals:
- MONEY: I wanted to find a way to make the cash I need to live the life I want to lead and to do the things I want to do.
- GLEDA: I wanted to tackle a big list of maintenance tasks and desirable improvements.
- HEALTH: I wanted to pay more attention to my physical and mental health.
Looking back over these past 12 months I’m pleased to say that with regard to points 2 & 3 I’ve made good progress.
‘Gleda’ will be better equipped and ready to start sailing again by 1st March 2018. More on that in a later post.
I’m certainly healthier. I now run 10 or 12 miles a week, regularly. My head is in a better place thanks to some wide-ranging reading.
Is it a coincidence that I’ve improved things in two areas that make me happy? I don’t think so.
Number one on the list though was money.
Progress here has been pretty much non-existent.
The reservoirs here in Spain are at record lows and for years now there’s not been enough rain to top them up. There’s talk of them drying out. A better metaphor for my finances I can’t think of.
It’s taken a lifetime to realise that chasing money is never going to work for me.
It just doesn’t matter enough.
What does matter to me is doing work that’s meaningful. Work that stimulates. Work that contributes something.
That work is writing.
I knew it, yet I let myself get distracted.
I’d wanted ‘A Foolish Odyssey’ published before Christmas; It isn’t going to happen.
I haven’t done the work. Resistance has kicked my arse.
But I’ve finally realised something.
My whole life I’ve disliked being told what to do.
My resistance to it has grown over the years.
Only now has it dawned on me that this resistance extended to myself.
When I told myself I needed to do something I resisted. The harder the work the more often I’d say “screw you” and walk away.
I was trying to pull off the most incredible escape ever; I was trying to escape myself.
It can’t be done.
Recognising that means I can stay and fight.
It means I can choose to knuckle down.
The first draft is nearly finished. 100,000 words covering nearly thirty years of my life. It’s proved to be a far greater challenge than I anticipated.
That’s another reason I’ve not blogged so often. My writing energy is limited.
The book will be finished before 1st March 2018.
Then I’ll start on the next one.
I will do the work.
The money will follow.
Living the dream is all well and good. Chasing new experiences and exploring new places are what this life is about. No-one ever got sick of new experiences. But there’s an important proviso.
You can’t keep doing that without a break. You need time out in-between to ground yourself, take stock, re-charge.
That’s the gift Cartagena has given.
I’ll write more about ‘Gleda’ soon.
In Spring we’ll be resuming our sailing adventures.
There’ll be plenty of interest to write about then.
Until next time.