Steve Reich

Why wouldn’t you want to wake up feeling like this every day?



Hmm. Hmm indeed!

Life is challenging. I’ve come to Berlin with a lot in mind to do, and, fundamentally, those things are getting done. Mostly life changes but a couple of projects as well. It’s coming off, they’re all coming off. It’s all about how one copes with things, how one chooses to deal with things, to perceive things, what one is willing to put up with and the point at which one must realise, ‘no, enough time wasting. We need a decision, an emphatically final decision, now.’

One such decision has been made re my house. Another may be pending.

Otherwise though, these not inconsiderable distractions have been … dealt with, over the past few weeks.


There’s a very great deal to be said by continually appraising only one’s posture, chin up, back straight, chest out, walk tall and look ahead. To Hell with them, you have your own plans.



Just been to Berlin Stadtmuseum, specifically the Palace where they have a great exhibition of Berlin as depicted through the centuries by painters, certainly the top floor has lush Canaletto-like paintings with all sorts of interesting takes on the city, what needed to be depicted due to royal patrons and the like.

I went as a celebration and reward for hitting 28 days of OYNB, 14 days of no coffee, 46 days of meditation. These two pictures struck me as reflective of my life right now, bursting with energy, colour, dynamism, much out of control, yet also under construction, handsome and planned and developing in determined phases. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition as well as oddly symbiotic duality of forces, and not to sound too spiritual about it, but I’ve been thinking June would deliver some kind of miracle, is the inspiration I felt there what I seek? Will I take up drawing again, and then some?

By way of contrast I thought of my unstable, soon-to-be-ex housemate:

Yes, the horrors of life in Chicago that have left her traumatised, borderline, if not bipolar, horrors she sought to escape through yoga, before seeking to escape in Berlin, only to realise those horrors were scarred upon her soul and psyche – there could be no escape!

There you can see her walking riverside with her imaginery boyfriend, the colours faded and dull in a lifeless landscape, the Spree serving only as a well for her to weep into before she decides to hurl herself bodily into its rushing grey depths.

And she does – only! Upon the very moment her body vaulted the handrail and her hand let go, regret coarsed through her – ‘NOOOOOOO!’ she screamed within, the shock of what she’d done smashed into her by the freezing shock of the water. She plummets down, swirling, sucked down towards the bed, as her mind and body kick in, ‘NO!’ she cries again within, her voice a bawling blub-blub of bubbles, ‘life is too precious to discard in so wanton a way, I must survive, if I cannot live for myself, I must live for others!’

And so she kicks and kicks again though still down she goes, and then she impacts something on the river bed, with excruciating pain, the last of her breath blasts out of her, as she wrestles to detach from this ‘thing’ that bites into her legs and stabs at her hands. What is it? No no her mind rapidly devoid of oxygen panics, not a bed of nails? Dropped in by some fakir? The bitter irony, a fakir who’d sought the same spiritual solace she had through the Eastern exercises of yoga and such, agh … but no.

She was impaled upon the rusted remains of a shopping trolley, it too a victim of the throwaway consumerism it had so enabled, and now she too, the American, a victim of it as she’d come so far in body and soul to escape the soulless consumerism of her homeland.

Irony upon irony. Woman who sought life and love found her death upon a bed of shopping trolley nails. And the aquatic archaeologist could only observe decades later, ‘look what crap you can get from the supermarket’.

High Noon

Lots of interesting conflicts:

Saturday was the duel with Sideshow Bob’s sister. All calm since then, eerily so. We’re studiously avoiding one another. Ah well.

Monday was taut, though. The agitation of the above compressed in all sorts of places, and by late afternoon I was really quite jangled when I came across a pretty bad road crash next to Boddin Strasse U-Bahnhof. We all wondered at first if this VW 4×4 that was rammed side on at a shitty casino, whether it was one of those ramming attacks, but I think the driver tried a macho attempt to take the lights and the corner at too great speed and fucked it up.

A few minutes later I got into a stand-off with a guy whose engine was burning out, I filmed this massive acrid cloud of exhaust and he wasn’t happy, demanding I delete it, but as he was aggressive I found myself first having to stand my ground and not delete it, arguing in bad German that I didn’t have to. Eventually he asked only I don’t show the number plate, and I said fine, and I wouldn’t put it on the net. In the end I realised bloke’s car has blown up and some tyke tourist comes filming it for which he might get an emissions’ fine as well, does he need the aggro? So I deleted it and left a note on on the car to say sorry.

Tuesday, I was strolling down Boddin Strasse and heard this chap on his phone, very distinctive voice, like Michael York, and he was talking English. Off he went and I wondered whether … as an actor I thought ‘this guy has a good voice, I’d like to hear it on the radio, on an ad, or something, but should I say something?’ … then I ran 30 yards to catch him and told him, and he was bemused, but a nice lad and found out he’s from Catford and is a lighting technician and has done extra work, so … I don’t know, could be a total nothing but then if you think something and say something, could it change a life, for the better, in ways unforeseen? Why not?

Then this morning, at the fruit and veg stall, this big lad came up, bit leary in a way, and put a paw of bananas in his bag and looked like he was walking off, so I said ‘hey, what you doing?’ and he looked confused, then said ‘I’m getting other stuff’. Which he did. At the counter I laughed and said sorry for accusing you of shoplifting, and he smiled and said ‘nah no problem’.

Where am I going with all this? Not sure, but I feel so much bolder. I’m not trying to create conflict I think, but … things happen. Anyway: Day 22 OYNB, feeling great. Day 8, no coffee (but on Club Mate) but so what? Feeling great. Getting regular swim / FIIT / skipping. Not as regular as I’d like or should be on the yoga … and I’ve had a breakthrough on the singing but I’m not capitalising on it like I should. I also know I need to work on nutrition because I’m too easily loading up on kebabs. Actually breakfast and lunch are great, but after that it’s total shit. So if I can combine a regimen adding some light weight lifting exercises and a low-fat diet that won’t leave me knocked out …

A few weeks left to finish the novel. Well – I’m not leaving til it’s done, but it’ll be done.

The Big Game is going on and I’m winning it.

That’s what matters right now.

*Note also: My pa emailed me the other day to ask what was going on in my world, what with a fair bit of flux in the last couple of years, and radical decisions, a lot of hither and thither in all. ‘not that I’d want to interfere on any level!’, quothe he. Which naturally to me I think ‘well you are,’ and get irked about it, and the invite to go see him and R seems more like a summons, and one thinks, seriously, I’m old enough to make my own decisions and create / destroy things in my own time. And we had a chat on the phone anyway and as I’d suspected there were a few bits he didn’t get, because his hearing’s gone, and you know because there are these long pauses sometimes and then the comment, ‘I didn’t quite get that, my hearing’s very bad you know / my hearing aid’s not in / I’m quite deaf these days.’ All adds to the frustration of the exercise, so to speak.

Then it struck me the other day, he’s in his mid-70s, and for his ailments he’s still so strong in mind that he and R are running this College of Real Farming, and hosting the annual conference, and gaining interest from China with whom he was talking to academics later the day we spoke. And for all that he has time to wonder how his son is doing. An ageing man nonetheless, whose mind is very much there, but his physical abilities are fading. I mean, these days being elderly is becoming more and more an exercise in becoming a cyborg, but he’s elderly. Technically, disabled.

And yet childish pride makes me begrudge the fact that he cares. *Hmmph!* Think I better book a flight to Oxford …



Just out on Tempelhof, an amazing day, stunning, like so many have been of late. And it’s not even June yet, not for more than a week.

I did 110 sit ups, 110 of those round sit up things, skipped for several minutes and 110 press ups, and it felt great, but what felt greatest was suddenly feeling … alive, free, tapping into the great blue sky and its wonderful cloudscapes and the grass and the warmth off the tarmac and the breeze, and I felt alive in a way I’ve not felt in a long time, if ever, this connectivity if that’s what it is.

Now: It’s day 21 of my umpteenth attempt at OYNB, but I’ve never done it so committed before, and this is the second longest I’ve got (I think?), and marks the 66th day with only three slips in that time. It’s also the seventh day of no coffee. To be honest, I’ve had a couple of bottles of Club Mate a day, which tastes a bit like tobacco, and it has caffeine in it too, but it’s not having the high, the crash, the anger at all of the coffee, and it’s also hydrating as it comes in half litres and not tiny shots.



Monetarist maniac

Trump’s all about the ratings. That’s it, that’s his benchmark, his gauge for success.

It’s like a throwback to the maniacal simplicity of Friedman’s monetarist policy, where righties believed the government could only but still should exercise control over the economy through the levers of interest rates. That was it, no other mechanism was required, nor should it be.

Trump is of similarly simplistic a mind, ironically ‘interest rates’ has a new meaning in the reality TV era.