Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Certain Reluctance

We enjoyed a good old, wide-ranging confab with Duncan last night, before he boarded his flight back to blighty. His work involves a fair amount of on-line activity, and social media of one sort or another occupied some of our attention. Interestingly Duncan objects quite forcibly to pictures of himself or his family being posted on-line so none of the snaps of our encounter will feature here. I can see where he's coming from on this issue despite not sharing his reservations.

Similarly he showed an intuitive understanding of my reluctance to increase the readership of my on-line efforts (i.e., this blog.) It seems his wife, Jane, is writing a blog relating to educational issues and is understandably seeking to increase her readership and thinking of eventually publishing a book derived from her work. Confessing to being a blogger myself, I felt it was better to make clear that the notion of increasing my readership filled me with something beyond reluctance - more akin to a mild panic.

Funnily enough, I can't really explain this reluctance, but that doesn't make it any less real.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Catching Up

We're off to the airport soon to see off Duncan who's been over here for a week. Sadly we haven't been able to catch up with him until today. I've not been checking on my non-work email recently, as dealing with my work email is a full-time occupation, so I missed the one he sent just before he set out to let us know he was over again. And when we did get in touch it was very tricky finding any time at all to get together. So I'm grateful we've been able to manage this evening, late in the day, or the week, rather, as it is.

I suppose I'm moaning again about being busy, but it's just a dreary fact of life that underpins everything at this time of year.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Staying Alive

Managed to get out this evening for some live music - as performed by some of the young people I teach. More than worth the effort. Thought I might nod off, since I felt so tired, but came alive, brought round by the life in the music.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

In A Crisis

The Missus had a bit of a problem today with a punctured tyre, but coped admirably. That was a good thing since when she rang me about it I was too busy to even answer the call. Of course, that's the way of things in the world of work as we've constructed it.

The worrying thing is, though, that it's easy to imagine facing a problem and not being able to cope since the world of work is so unforgiving. How did we manage to make it that way?

(I think I know the answer to that question. But I'm too tired to bother to explain it.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Wouldn't it be great to have an extra two to three hours a day to get through an impossible workload? But how would I ever be able to overcome my weariness and not fall asleep in those extra hours, if the days were magically extended?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Pushing It

I was quite pleased with myself on Sunday afternoon after doing pretty well at the gym, getting back to my peak November numbers on the elliptical trainer. I had it in mind to get myself back there this evening, but by Sunday night I was aware of a distinct sense of tenderness in my lower back, enough to qualify as something close to pain. And on Monday morning it was obvious I'd suffered a bit of a strained muscle.

Time was I would have forced myself back into action as planned, since today the strain has eased. And time was, this would have been, most likely, perfectly okay. But now is the time to accept the fact that pushing it is no longer even close to wise.

Funnily enough, I'm quite pleased with myself for wisely doing nothing.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Speaking To Myself

Over the weekend Noi got understandably irate, as did a fair number of folk on this island, about a story that strongly suggested an attendant at a patrol station had been scammed in a particularly egregious manner by a customer driving quite a flash vehicle. She also showed me a story that had been run earlier on the Channel News Asia website concerning the trials of an elderly gentleman who needed to make a desperately small living doing the same job. At one time he'd had to pay the S$87 shortfall resulting from a customer saying he'd put the wrong grade of petrol in her vehicle.

It's difficult to comprehend that customers would treat obviously vulnerable attendants in this way, but the sad fact is that some do. I'm not sure there's much we can do to alter what seems to be something close to the innate cruelty of these people, but there's an extremely useful lesson in this for anyone who aspires to civilised, compassionate values, one that my wife taught me some years ago. When you feel stressed enough to get irritated at the security guard who's behaving very obtusely, or the attendant who's managing to get in your way rather than actually attend to you, take a deep breath, remember the details from the CNA story (and so many others like it) count your blessings (in the entirely clich├ęd, yet deeply appropriate manner you've been told so many times to adopt), and behave not just well, but with unusual kindness.

And if the above sounds untypically preachy for this Far Place, please note I'm talking primarily, if not exclusively, to myself.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


Just got back from judging some of the abundant talent we have where I work. What is it about seeing others do something well, and so often extremely well, that is so life-enhancing? Definitely one of the perks of the job.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Falling Short

A few days ago I was bemoaning my lack of real progress in reading Leviathan. I perhaps should have mentioned then that the same complaint applied to my glacial progress through James Merrill's Collected Poems. I'm approaching the end of his 1966 collection Nights And Days and I'm not finding things are getting easier. Each poem is a challenge, one that usually renders some kind of satisfaction, minimally in terms of a number of striking phrases, but often rather more than that in grasping a reasonable sense of the intent of the whole. But I haven't yet read a single poem of which I've felt something absolutely fully achieved in my reading. After 206 pages that's a bit disappointing.

But there're another 662 pages to go, so chances are something will turn up.

Friday, April 13, 2018


When I first started attending the mosque for Friday Prayers I saw having to do so as something of a burden, to be completely honest. I wasn't supposed to feel that way, but I did. Just getting away from work in the middle of the day, usually a busy one, was in itself a challenge, as was finding a place to park, making sure I behaved in the approved fashion upon arrival, and following the sequence of the prayers. It's embarrassing to confess it, but getting it all over with was accompanied by a very distinct sense of relief.

All that changed, in some ways quite rapidly. It didn't take long to find myself feeling a lot more relaxed inside whichever mosque I found myself attending. But I did continue to feel that the need to go for prayers was a sort of imposition. I suppose it took a year or two, possibly more, to completely shake off that feeling, but it eventually dissipated.

What I don't think I ever quite expected was the sense of relief I now experience at being able to attend Friday Prayers (and to pray in the masjid at other times.) I now find myself rather reluctant to leave, and distinctly irritated if I find I have to rush away to get back to urgent work stuff and thus miss the post-prayer sequence (which is not compulsory, in case you were wondering.) The feeling of somehow being, for once, in the right place at the right time, which becomes time out of time, is in some ways strange, in some ways deeply familiar.