collisions make us (beautiful)

I spent most of my life asking why.

I spent most of my life not enjoying my life because I always asked why.

I asked why when a person wanted to get close.

I asked why when a person left me.

I asked why I shouldn’t ask why.

But today, after yesterday, I know only that beauty – however fleeting – needs no why.  In fact, more than needs no why it is inevitably damaged, hurt, broken, cracked, weeped, sadded, dismembered and – ultimately – lost, when we ask a person who loves us why they do.

After yesterday, it may be too late for the latest person who crossed my path – who, in the nicest possible terms and with the most honourable and outreaching of sentiments, went so far as to actually seek it out, engineer its crossing and desire its walking – to forgive me my having asked why in the destructive ways I used to.

I used to until yesterday.

But yesterday, from yesterday, no longer.

In the morning, I went to FACT Liverpool and enjoyed the collisions of art, science, humanity and reality that the latest exhibition, “No Such Thing As Gravity”, is currently teaching us and leading us to appreciate & engage with, as it aims to love our intellects, and serves to regale our emotions.


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In the evening, I wandered the streets of Liverpool and Liverpool One, in my by now habitual and standard auto-ethnographic way – in the misunderstood why which has occupied me for so long.  I got caught in the crowds at the big Christmas switch-on, and discovered – in that moment – in both my relationships with place and my relationships with people, that no whys are needed – nor, even, desirable.  So if it’s too late, Claire, then it’s too late.  But the lesson you have helped teach me has been so welcome and right, I cannot complain of the outcome.  And if one day we might share a table and a meal once or twice more, then life would indeed be righter than right.

And if not, then it will still – for me, and I hope for everyone who has tried to get close to me over the years and even so, gone and failed – be righter than right.


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This morning, meantime, over coffee in Joe & The Juice in John Lewis, Liverpool One, I have had time to reflect further on the good things in life.  I am a lucky man, a lucky man indeed; and I have only just realised my good fortune.  And bad things have happened.  And I caused some of them, it is clear – on occasions without realising; on others I am now truly ashamed of, because I should obviously have known far better – and (maybe) chose not to do so.

But I have survived, and am blessed, and I continue to try and help others to feel as I now manage to.  And if that will be my legacy, then let it be so.  And if nothing else is to happen in my life but this auto-ethnography and the joy it brings me, and I hope begins to bring yous too, I will be more than content with my impact on a world which needs good people like no other time – and more than that, needs good people to step up and show their compatriots we exist.

And to all the women, people, and indeed men and children who have encountered me over the years, I’m sorry if I hurt you.  I was hurting too.  And beyond that pain I was unable to perceive any future of any nature.

Not now.


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what when you don’t make enemies but they go and bloody well make you?

#Xmas is coming to #liverpoolone #christmas

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I just tweeted the following.  I suddenly realise how true it is:

I’ve spent so much of my life striving to see good in everyone.  My strategy involved (I can see this now) speaking first – openly, sincerely, honestly, frankly – and then ruminating, Sherlock-like, afterwards.  In a sense, maybe this process became an unconscious strategy which was anything but unthinking: make people think you’re naive as hell (which, even so, I may be), and then do the intellectual dirty on them as you watch them watching you being moderately irritating, confusing, difficult to get a handle on – and, ultimately, disposable as a human resource.

But whilst they thought you weren’t taking notice of anything – I mean in that fuzzball of verbal diarrhoea you came out with, how could you possibly catch on to whatever? – you actually noticed it all: or practically all, anyhows.

Everything, that is, except how very real the enemies who’ve attached themselves to you really are.  Everything, that is, except how true this all is.

This is for real: people actually do honestly hate me.  But with a virulence I never intended to arise, not quite understood until today.

And so today everything changed.  Today I realised – after a conversation I had last week, when a person who changed my life on one occasion made me see the change engineered required me to sign up to a discourse of revolutionary violence: a discourse where such outcomes would be favoured and supported, even as the hands that got dirty in the process would remain those of the proles – that I had two ways to move forwards in my life.

The first way involved saying goodbye.  This is the edited content of an email I sent to a close friend on Saturday, as the implications of the game being played with me began to slowly but surely sink in:

I realise why I don’t want to [be doing this].  I feel cheated and almost raped – intellectually anyway [if that is an acceptable way of using the term] – by people looking for adepts prepared to sanction and support others’ use of violence against the status quo.  This is something I am not prepared to associate myself with.  So yes.  Now I feel dirty – as I say, like I had actually been raped: in this case, of course, by […] brain[s] clearly better than mine, but also far more ruthless than I shall ever be prepared to become.

So if you want to understand why I can’t carry on […], these are the reasons why.  It is via […] a violent intellect that I got in – and it will only be my own intellect which will serve to get me out.

But that was then, and today is now.

And so then – as in all my thens – I reverted to running away in order to solve my problems: to giving in to the violent; to avoiding the battle; to pretending it was not my choice and therefore not my responsibility.

But that was then, and today is now.  And now I realise my responsibility lies in staying put and fighting – even to my professional and personal detriment, even to the shame of very professional suspicion and disrespect, to the full-blown hatred others expressed for me in the past, and will now perpetuate into the rest of my future.

It’s a battle and a war, and maybe even a terrorism of the super- and bitterly competitive.

And if in the process of engagement I am now prepared to share I end up losing everything – self-respect, position, pride, love, a life which is more than basic survival – then so be it.  But at the very very least I will have fought for what I sincerely believe in: truth, compassion, kindliness and humanity.

And if nothing else, if I achieve little more, let that one day sit on my tomb as my witness.


#xmas is coming to #liverpoolone #christmas

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Building #xmas in #liverpoolone #christmas

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L for #Liverpool

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tetchy tech (or a story of asshole nihilism)

Where I started, where I ended … #chester to #liverpool (and where I belong …)

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I’ve had quite a few downsides and run-ins with tech over the past few weeks, impacting really negatively on my ability to work on my MA.

I know they tell us we should take ownership of our reactions.  But this is a way of saying what we feel is ours to own, and we have no right to own anything else that happens.  Instead, maybe resigning ourselves to its reality is about as far as we can go.

The whole world an asshole as the man said?  (It was almost certainly a man …)  I don’t know.  What’s clear is that a lack of oversight on processes end-to-end is crapping the life out of us.

One fairly recent example.  The housing trust maisonette where we live is on the first floor.  It shares a fairly new downstairs door (at the foot of equally shared stairs) with our lovely neighbours across the way.  They are, by the way, the best neighbours you could ever hope for.  The best.

The fairly new door was a replacement for the previous fairly shabby door.  However, the functionality of the shabby cousin was far greater than that of its replacement.  Let me explain.  The latter has very nice frosted windows, is made (I think) of white PVC, and has a letterbox.  All to the superficial good.  And therein its true idiocy.

To all intents and purposes the door now looks like it leads to a house, not a shared flight of stairs and on to two dwellings on the first floor.  A cursory examination of postal legislation would have revealed that where there is a letterbox, even if shared (the two flat numbers are clearly present, by the way – something I neglected to mention above), postal services have no obligation to go any further.  No one in the housing trust who sanctioned the now fairly new door ever thought to look at end-to-end process, it is clear.  Over the past two years or so our shared experience (ie that of our lovely neighbours and ourselves) with the wretched “first point of delivery” in question has been dreadful: multiple lost deliveries from couriers various as packages got left in full view of the street; muddy and damp letters and post when they do arrive; untold numbers of re-deliveries required as the delivery people knock at the bottom, get no immediate reply, and scurry off; and multiple unfulfilled assurances from Royal Mail to not do what the next shift of postal officers always ends up doing.

Overall a much worse service – and intractably so! – than when we had the old and shabby original.

And all due to the fact that someone, somewhere, in a procurement department miles away from the issues, thought that a brand new door with letterbox and two numbers would be a vast improvement for the security and safety of everyone and everything concerned.

End-to-end process analysis is rapidly becoming a lost art: lost to the ever-increasing specialisations of our world, where we are strongly, systemically, encouraged to dip our heads into ever-decreasing circles of knowledge, and thus find ourselves failing altogether to see the wider connections.

And that is what brings me back to the world and its asshole.  So maybe such extreme nihilism is unwarranted, and maybe such vigorous resignation is unhelpful, and maybe we do need to take ownership for our own reactions above and beyond what happens to us on a daily basis.  But even so, and even when said, and even when accepted, there remains this reality: good people are doing shit things because shit systems and lines of command and control and overarching strategies and perhaps, simply, a general lack of interest in or understanding of what is going on is more the rule than the exception.

Write the beautiful new door with its shiny letterbox and flat numbers to a broader audience of work, leisure, consumerism, business and political activity and it begins to become so much easier to understand why asshole nihilism is becoming the default position of so many citizens.

‘Question is: how do we work out together a way of shrugging off the vicious circles which are currently embracing us in no congenial way at all?  How do we move on from simply having to own asshole nihilism on this dreadful daily basis – and dealing with our tragic and broader bereavement from intelligent behaviours – to actually making environments and worlds where our first response doesn’t need to be one of wiping up spilt milk but rather, much more handsomely, drinking its sexy and freshly churned warmth with an intellectual joy that befits the 21st century?


#urban #flash #liverpool

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