Thursday, February 23, 2006


Sometimes I like to go to airports. Actually I really like going to airports. But I don't like it when I have to get a plane. Instead I really like it when my parents want me to pick them up from one of their many trips around the world. Be it India, Italy, Spain or the US of A, I will always aim to be there about 20 minutes early.

This 20 minutes is dual purpose. It allows them to get in early and head off out of the airport early as well and so get back to that proper English cup of tea just a little bit sooner. However I don't do it just for them. It allows me time to sit there, recover from the drive, maybe grab a coffee and maybe read a few pages of a book. But after a while I won't be able to resist anymore. I just have to watch all the people coming off the planes.

It's just a simple facts, airport arrival lounges are one of the happiest places which I know of which is full of people. Where else can you see young couples embracing after weeks of not seeing each other. If you cast your eye a bit to the left you can see the man in a suit, clearly back from a one day business trip, offering to help an elderly lady with the bag she is struggling to get onto the trolley. A small child grips her dad's hand tighter and moves closer to his legs so that she can get past the man in the suit. Groups of stag and hen night party goes are laughing about all the antics of the past 48 hours. A middle age inventor carries a borrow briefcase and is wearing his only suit; he's hoping that this will be the trip where he gets the backing he needs.

And all of this is to be found in just one place. One small concentrated spot of general happiness. There might be two hundred people shouting, but I always feel so calm there. On top of this the thing which always brings a grin to my face though is how unintentional this all is, it's just how it's all come together.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tradition for it's own sake

or how I learned to love the man.

It being the 19th of February it is a scant 5 days since the day of St. Valentine. For no particular reason my thoughts have recently been focused in the direction of problems with this festival. While it brings many people much happiness it also brings many people much stress and much anger flows with it. The reasons which are normally cited are ones of commercialism and why do you just have to treat your SO specially on just one day of the year. The latter is usually followed by the question of why shouldn't every day be like valentines day. Well these are all interesting comments, and should possibly be followed by cries of BAH humbug, but this might be followed by visitation by spirits, so is probably best avoided.

Back to the topic at hand, why should we celebrate in the way and at the time dictated by the commercial overlords which rule our lives. To fight against these commercial overlords may well be a worthy cause, but to do it just for one day of a year seems a little bit like directing your effort poorly. The fact that commercialism is intensified at Valentine's day only goes to show that the real reason for it, the bond between people, is strong. The same is true of Christmas; although most of what we see in the physical world is commercial rubbish, it is in no way the most important aspect. The feelings of those around us are by far the most important aspect of both of these special days. The feelings of the one you might be treating specially is what it's really all about.

So what of treating this person specially, surely they should be the shining star in your life, blotting out all other lights all of the time. Putting aside practical considerations of how this could be done while still leading a life with a healthy balance, surely this is the ideal. Here I wish to lead by use of an analogy, which while analogies are as flawed as they are useful, I use one here to eliminate a good couple of paragraphs work. Now that I am earning in a full time job I easily earn enough to afford to have someone cook for me every night. Within the grasps of my money filled fist I have the opportunity for a washing up free world with no need to cook, so why do I foolishly still cook for myself. If I did then the great feeling of going out for a meal with friends would get diluted down to being only a small smile at the edge of my face when I paid the bill every night. Living is about contrasts, life needs ups and downs to give us something to calibrate against. If we lived forever would we appreciate life nearly as much as we do (or at least should).

Hopefully I've convinced you, at least particularly, that having moments of very special treatment surrounded by special treatment is a good idea. So why should we choose the 14th day of the second month for this; after all any other day is just as good. Tradition has to rear it's ugly head here. Yes it is tradition to do special things on this day, for no good reason (although 9 months later is during early winter with large food stocks and nothing to do, but that's no longer relevant to life). However is no good reason a good enough reason to not do something and to change from tradition? "Sorry darling, but I'm going to do something really special for you on the 10th of June as I see no reason why it should be on the 14th of February" This line of reasoning strikes me as the sort of reasoning that leads to me moving my cheese from the second shelf in my fridge to the third; there is no reason to have it on the second, but no reason isn't a reason to change to another thing with no reason. The final issue I shall tackle is that of if your fridge has no cheese in it at all.

Having spent several Valentines days at the bottom of bottles, full of plastic and poisons or just being self destructive in a multitude of other ways I learn something. The days spent recovering and being reminded of that day made me realise something; clearly I have far more to my life than just not having a significant other. So instead of moping around trying to punish myself in some twisted way I grasped what I did have. I had the ability to do what I want, to be as reckless as I want (for better or worse) and to not have to plan how I can best express in physical reality what I feel to the depths of my emotions: I had my freedom, it was just the world and I. The world gave me good friends.

So what did we do, we decided to gather. We formed our own ritual. We drank beer, we ate pizza, we watched kung-fu films, we stayed up late, we had fun. In poker you can get dealt hands from which you are unlikely to win, but you can still enjoy the betting and the playing of the game. I've never been more bored at a poker game than when I decided I would always fold unless I had a very large chance of winning. You sometimes get a good hand, you sometimes get a bad hand, but you can still enjoy playing the hand, no matter what it is.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Inspired by a DFS sofa advert but dedicated to the sofa I am on right now.

Happy times do flow
when you are close to me,
I make your life real.