“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened” – Winston Churchill

The solstice is almost upon us! Snow’s sneaking across the land and men sell woolly hats in the street.  I’m waiting on a friend from the US, who’s flying over especially for the Imp’s wintry nuptials, while other family and friends crawl their way through The Weather.

I’m telling all involved to relax, worry not, take it as it comes – which is a joke given the self-inflicted assault on my nerves of the last few weeks. But finally, the calm is coming!

What is anxiety; why do we worry? I’ve been (annoyingly) able to watch my own discalm, disquietude, and have come up with some factors of imp-angst – which is to say, they’re not necessarily anything like yours.

For me, I reckon it’s all about other people – and their reactions to one’s self.

Because a worried “what if, what if, what if, ” by itself is meaningless – it can do no harm: we’re back to “if a wood falls in the forest, does it make a noise?”  What I mean is that the worst case scenarios are usually (I’m ruling out falling off cliffs, here) about performance, acceptance, and other contributors to emotional safety / harm.

This all became clear when I found myself saying, “it doesn’t matter what happens because we’re amongst friends.” I realised that people who love me won’t think less of me if something – anything – goes wrong. Those who would think bad thoughts aren’t my friends – and in the context of my own wedding, well – they shouldn’t be there!

So – I have just seen the first snowflakes through the window. Sinatra’s on the radio (natch) and I urge all elves, gnomes, fellow imps and pixies to hug yourselves, smile at the world and remember you are loved.  Get friends around you and get festive.  Happy celebrations, one and all.



The Imp has been in hiding. But here are the rains (head to The Waste Land). The hills here are hot and watching and the birds have wildly taken over. All here is squawking and sighs, the odd engine in the background, and the land breathes.

It is cold today – such a contrast from the day before yesterday.

Then, I climbed a hill, running hard. I came to the buttercup field – which I had been waiting for – and was suddenly clasped inside a snow-storm of floating catkin seeds. They were in every look, sailing through a breeze tunnel, spreading and flying, finding fertile nests in which to rest. The birds were gentle, and the grass outdoing itself with its green. The sky was bursting with pride at its own blue calibre and the earth banks swelled as if to say,  “See? We are here, always here, still here; look at this.” I daren’t breathe. How magical.

Moments, these moments, feel Grail-like; they are the alkahest, the philosopher’s stone in my life.  You can only ever capture their flavour in your mind – that is their ineffable nature. But even those pale versions can work magic on your soul on the dreariest day. Un-stopper the memory with care, with respect, and breathe in gently, at times of need.

Have you forgetten what magic bottles lie on the shelves of your mind?

Eostre time again. To celebrate new beginnings. Why we have “new year” in the depths of winter is a’body’s guess …..[cue the Roman equivalent of the anal civil servant type:

“Januarius must be the first month. We couldn’t possibly have a moveable feast marking the start of the year! No; it must be thus. A piffle-paffle to nature – our calendar is what we must follow now. These are modern times!”]

So, are you feeling the strength of March 20th’s equinox? (The equinox is the time, twice a year when the length of the day and night are almost the same, no matter what your latitude). The longer days, the flirting beasties? The flooding push towards the longest day (or the shorter days & shortest if you’re in the southern hemisphere, of course!)?

Well, if you’re not, stop, sniff and look around. The air surely has a different quality? Get out, go walk, smile at the sky and have a lovely rest before the sunny and hard work of the summer begins (this is why all our bank holidays are during the summer months – we would have worked the fields all the hours of sunlight and holidays were much deserved!).


In sun-worshipping days, we might have felt a tad unloved of late.  But this week, we have SUN! What the ballyhoo are you doing sitting inside (presumably), typing, then, Imp?

A fine question indeed. I am working. But not for long, hence the brevity of style, the economy of manner, the inherent apology about the questionable quality of this posting.

I seized the sunnynessing earlier today and went for a run. I altered my usual route and galloped, knee-jerkingly idiotically, down some very steep fields. They were so green! Two magpies winked at me (better than the 8 in their circular parliament I’d seen ten days earlier. Very creepy). And on the way down the hill, a lady held the gate open for me.

“Isn’t this wonderful?” I beamed. I always try to be a little ray of sunshine myself. But you knew that.

“Oh, yes,” she said, grey bun on head, like the kind of lady who might be a fairy godmother in disguise.

“Aren’t we lucky?” I shone, pushing my luck while emanating (an irritating) joie de vivre and (also irritating) sweat.

“That’s it, ” she said. “That’s our summer.”

There’s nothing like a fairy godmother in a cheery mood, is there? (And that was nothing like it.)

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

– Auric Goldfinger (yes, the baddie in Goldfinger)

Remember the fractals? In “Seeing the Curl“, I suggested that coincidence could be a fractal curl.

In the last week, I think I’ve been falling down the fractal slide, a little like Alice down her rabbit hole. Either that, or I’ve slipped into Cheap Tabloid Horoscope World.

“This week, Piscilibrarians, you’ll uncover money you didn’t know you had. And watch out for technology. It’s not your friend!”

Every IT problem that could come to pass came to pass. In fact it didn’t pass. Each one of them set up shop, moved in the lover, had brats, who all got ‘flu… The mac, the laptop, the tablet, the printer, the ‘phones. I’m surprised the traffic lights didn’t start telling me where to go: “Don’t bloody walk. No! OK – now!” [just as a 10-ton truck careered out of control].

Mind you, the money wot was hid was good. I’d massively overpaid the tax man and ridiculously underpaid my expenses. It’s not new, it’s not gained any interest, but it’s honestly mine, so I’m not complaining.

But you know how you can go for months without anything ever “happening”? For some people, life just butts its way into thrills and excitement, doesn’t it? Being discovered as the wild face of yesterday while picking your nose in the photo booth, or perhaps eaten by an escaped and rabid dolphin at a beach party -good examples, both, of life just “happening”. So often, you just get on with it, though, don’t you? You know, you think, eat, have feelings, do more or less the same thing as you wander along. You make things happen yourself; you are – you believe – the agent of change. External interference seems minimal (“ah, but is it?”); nothing happens. Well, irritating although the IT cauchemar [pretentious French for ‘nightmare’; I can’t call it a nightmare without putting tongue firmly in cheek] was, its seeming randomness was definitely a happening. As was the cash being refunded – and in both cases, I felt as tho’ they’d happened without me doing anything.

And there’s the widgimaflip*: the sort of thing that scriptwriters (and novelists) love. The events’ seeds had been sown way back (idiots overpaying their taxes, for example) and forgotten. Only the beloved honesty (anality) of the tax man altered the single-minded (egocentric) unravelling of the Imp life. And you see, there’s the fractal! The butterfly flap of Swindon’s finest junior tax inspector caused a minor earthquake in the Imp household (I splashed out on some  fine peanut butter, in all probability).

Ah…glad I got that off my chest….


*patent pending; the Widgimaflip will be 2012’s most thrilling metaphorical and metaphysical linguistic and conceptual invention….

I think any writer who is interesting to me at least has always a very firm sense of place … It is also a very strong sense of belonging to and possession of a particular territory and I think that is true of almost all the writers I am interested in [Blake, Dickens, Hardy].

– Peter Ackroyd


It’s astonishing the Ready-Brek(TM) sense of well-being that a muddy and hilly 5-mile run (washed down with a good chilli and a fat hunk of bread) can generate, isn’t it?

Fuelled by caffeine afore and aft, punctuated with close encounters of the heron/buzzard/cattle kind, I had a cheeky, speedy sally into the winter-sun hills around my home. And it was good.

It takes time – at times – not just to remember, but to re-experience, strong  psychological sensations. We can become dulled. When I decided to move to this place, I was hit by a very strong sense of rightness.  There’s only one other place that did that to me, and it’s a long way from here. I knew – for the time being – that ‘here’ worked for now.  That  feeling  really glowed again today, just as strong as the first time – or stronger, perhaps, now that it’s fermented with experience.

Our sense of place (which reminds me I have not sufficiently dealt with the issues about our own physical sense of the space around us that I raised in Peepholes of Perception – I will…) is an important one. For example, I was once asked to move to the Balkans; their arid, golden-grey hills sang to my companion’s soul, but in contrast, nothing (save perhaps the flats of the East Anglian fens) could make me feel more ill at ease. At other times, people have all but described certain cities as magnetic – you cannot leave once you come, they say. As Peter Ackroyd points out in his biography of London, some places always feel the same, no matter what you do to them. No matter how much regeneration cash you spend, how many slums you raze to the ground, the locus genii – spirit of the place – persists (my interpretation of Ackroyd; I won’t sully the poor man with my witterings).

Why is it that a sense of connectedness to the land, to location, to terrain, is so rarely discussed in Western culture? We happily (in many cases) import and so acknowledge fung sui principles in interior design or architecture, which must be related, but we do not overtly allow any more than the casual, “it just feels right / funny/ wrong” type comment about towns or homes. DNA research work reveals that people move, over hundreds of generations, hardly at all from the place of their forebears. Could it be that our DNA has a geographical memory?

At this thought, I paused. It might well sound like random rubbish, I thought, but it interests me, and these guys can always bog off and look for more Teletubby pictures (as many people arriving here do) if they’re bored, so let’s see what the magical tinterweb has to say. Would you credit dna_500it? Even the imp’s wildest wittering is not original. Ho hum. The upside of this is that there are some interesting theories out there, suggesting that we might in fact have DNA memory:

  • like musical or other abilities that we inherit, we might inherit a sense of a place being good for us, because our forebears knew how best to survive in and around such landscapes
  • a sense of an individual’s ‘good’ [safe/healthy/fertile] landscapes might thus be imprinted into their DNA
  • lots of nuts theories, too….

If you remove the air of superstition, make it all sciencey, does it become a more acceptable thing for you to ponder? Native (the clue is in the word) peoples all over the world live wholly through their sense of, and profound respect for, the land. (Check out Symbolic Landscapes by Paul Devereux – an excellent, absorbing book on ancient sites, shamanism and the prehistoric consciousness). It works for them.

Look back, see where you are and why, where you felt most right, where you hope to be next and wonder why. It doesn’t matter, all said and done, whether it’s scientifically proveable; your own feelings are what we’re dealing with and you don’t need an expert to give you a gold star for them- do you?

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