Saturday, 1 August 2009


Not being fluent, I may not understand every single word that is spoken to me, but I tend to get the gist.

Eye contact, gestures, and body language count for a lot.

But when it comes to sensitive or complex subjects, though I may understand the message being conveyed to me, I don't necessarily have the capacity to respond. Particularly as I would prefer to be diplomatic, and get my point accross without being offensive, especially when speaking to someone I have only just met.

So when my landlady's father creates a standoff after five minutes of meeting me over my nationality and my choice of reading material, I smile, tilt my head, look quizical, and try to pretend like I don't quite understand what an aggressive bigot he has just shown himself to be.

If the conversation had been in English, I would probably have already moved out.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

I leave Manchester tomorrow.

People keep asking if I am excited about going. They have been asking this for weeks now, and I have been telling them that no, I'm not really excited, but I am sure I will be when it gets closer to it.

But in little over 48 hours I will be in my new home in Buenos Aires, and I continue to be in an almost surreal state of calm. I am looking forward to it, of course. I am happy that I have a nice place to stay while I do my course, with friendly housemates that are my own age, and have made contact with the varied group that will be my classmates. I am looking forward to going to classes, to feeling the pressure of learning and assignments that need to be done. I have been looking at yoga classes online and am planning on taking up tango, as well. And after many months of virtually meat free living, I salivate at the thought of an Argentinian grill.

But excited? No. To be excited you have to be a bit nervous, I suppose, and I am taking it all in my stride. This is in stark contrast to how I was before I left for Ecuador, those who have been reading since then will remember. Then, I was terrified that something bad would happen. I was desperate to escape, but wanting an itinerary, a formula perhaps, that would make everything alright.

Now, I have a one way ticket, and people say 'how brave' to not have a plan, or 'what an adventure it will be'. Well, it may be adventure. It will be what I make of it, just as my time in Manchester has been. But I am not scared, and not brave either. To me, this is just the next leg of a journey that I have already begun.

I came back to Manchester because my money ran out, and all the time since then I have been getting ready to go off again, saving money and getting ideas together. Originally I felt stifled to have returned. I felt that I had failed, taken a backward step even, and that I needed to get away again. To escape properly. But not now. I have enjoyed my time in Manchester; being welcomed back to the theatre, welcomed back by old friends, and making new friends. And I know that whatever happens and however long it takes, Manchester will always be a home for me.

I am not running away. I am just moving on.

Monday, 29 June 2009

I draw a lot of parallels between the behaviour of humans and other species, and I realised tonight that I might be slightly over egging it, to the effect that I am impressing my own impression of humanity onto animal behaviour to the detriment of my enjoyment of the wonder of 'creation'.

I had been listening to the sounds of the Capercaille. The recording I have is really magical, because it seems as if the bird is approaching and retreating from the microphone at exactly the right points in its call pattern to give an undulating sound. That, mixed with the gradual build up of other bird sounds in the background, creates a beautiful synphonic effect. It is almost like a piece of music in iteslf, if you discount the guy who talks in soft tones introducing a bird noise for a couple of seconds halfway into it.

I loved it so much I wanted to post it on here, but I couldn't, because I haven't quite figured out the audio file side of my new laptop (or how to do it on blogger). So I decided to look it up on youtube.

I found this instead, which (as with all of Attenborogh's stuff) is a great piece of footage. But you know what I was thinking as my mental picture was replaced by the image of the real battle/ courtship?

Cocking hell. They think that agressive behaviour and a bit of posturing will charm the ladies. What th.. not only do they get their pick of the hens, but they get a bloody harem? The bloody cocks!

I am sure that the Capercaillie hens do not mind, and that this pattern of behaviour has evolved to the benefit of most involved. So, why did it upset me so much?

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Indecision is the father of obscurity.

It appears to me that projects and opportunities open up just when there really isn't enough time to fit everything in. But then again inactivity leads to stagnation, so that makes sense.

My problem is, that once an opportunity arises, I find it very difficult to admit that I may not have the time to commit to it. For example, I was offered some extra work today that would be something different, perhaps interesting, easily done and a little extra cash. The only snag is that I am already scheduled to work at the same times in my usual job, which is also easily done, mostly quite pleasant, and in which I get free time to read, think and write.

There is a lazy, selfish part of me that thinks it makes sense to stay doing what I usually do, even if it is just to spend my last few weeks in the country working with friends rather than acquaintances, while logic tells me that it would be foolhardy to reject picking up a new mini-skill for marginally better money.

I am a grown woman. If I can be this indecisive about a few weeks' casual work, no wonder I have been at such a loss juggling the rest of life's desires.

Friday, 29 May 2009

A Gentle Letdown

One of the sad things about going away is saying goodbye to the people that you care about.

One of the sadder things is going away because you never got to get to care about someone.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Not another false start.

Sorry, I've been gone a while.

There's a reason for that.

Mostly it's because there are enough blogs out there documenting people's self perpetuating sense of failure and feelings of isolation, and also because I have had so very little worthy of discussion.

Who cares that I have returned to my old place of work, having climbed down the career ladder, to a job that I actually rather enjoy, despite the pitying looks from old colleagues and concerned questions about how the 'job search' was going (I wasn't searching for a job)? Who cares that I was involved in a couple of creative projects that were lots of fun but could hardly be considered a concerted effort at a career change? And who really gives a fig that I still haven't written that book?

Except for me, of course. Hence the self perpetuating sense of failure and feeling of isolation. *Cue violins*

But all that is about to change, because I am going exploring (read "running away") again. This time I am going to Buenos Aires, and I have bought a one-way ticket. This doesn't mean that I will be gone forever, though in theory it might. I have a very loose plan, which involves training to teach English and then looking for work, and travelling when I have no work, until my savings dry up. This may not take very long, or (if I find a job, or any sort of genuine direction, really) it could be a journey that doesn't stop.

Teaching is, I have always said, the last job I would ever want to do. In the sense that my parents were both teachers (and my sister, for a while), and I witnessed through my childhood a great deal of stress and a very small amount of free time. Now I realise this is involved in most jobs, and I know that in theory teaching can be very rewarding. It is an honorable profession. Even so, I do have a deep set aversion to the idea. But I imagine teaching adults who actually want to learn is less stressful than a class of thirty-one teenagers that would rather be out shagging than learning a foreign language. It has to be worth a shot, and it's better than treading water back in Manchester, I suppose.

It will be amazing, I am sure. Whatever happens, it will inform my future and I will have seen something new of the world. And I miss the rainforest with a longing that can't be written, and this may bring me closer to it again.

Sunday, 21 December 2008


In the cartoons that I watched as a kid there was always a stupid character; one that acts big and then fails on the delivery. He is the coyote who gets blasted by his own dynamite or the hunter who falls into his own trap. The one we love to see thwarted by his own arrogance.

He chases his prey with a foolhardy zeal. Leaning forward into the run, snarling determinedly, his feet are a blurred circle of animated urgency. In the background the scenery rolls past, unaffected.

He doesn't even notice that his target has hidden behind a rock. He just keeps running until the ground beneath his feet runs out. He has been running on sheer air and despiration, but it's too late now. He claws at the sky but there's only one way to go, and it isn't up. And so he falls off the edge of the screen with a high pitched whistle, followed by a crash and a mushroom of dust.

There he is, lying in a made-to-measure depression in the dry earth; legs splayed, taunted by the chirping of cute little birds circling his bruised body, and struggling to raise his head.

We can almost feel sorry for him. We know the futility of his ambition. His plans are never as ingenious as he thinks. He is pathetic, but we do just love to see him fall.

They always manage to get up and start the chase afresh though, these characters. They can be beaten to a pulp with a frying pan or get flattened by a grand piano, but there's always still just a bit more chase left in them. And sometimes, just sometimes, it looks like they might just get what they're after.

......And then they don't.

The dust is beginning to clear now, but I still can't pull myself up out of the earth far enough to figure out what it was I was chasing. It could have been just the long shadow cast by a cartoon cactus, after all.