Solvation D J S 3 – Well I wood, wouldn’t I? (or, how my fire got put out… Pt 2. <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <woNotOptimizeForBrowser/> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> Some considerable time later I was woken by the lightest of tip-tapping, just as the opening salvo of the coming rains began to hit the tail end of my overly-porous-cheaply-acquired-but-for-the-most-part-functionary-nylon-cocoon. Despite teething troubles everything was going quite well and the circumstance was still at the ok end of the scale, at least better than being on an acute psych ward, which had of course been the other option. Overall I’d rather have been living in my Shed-Quarters back in the back end of my old garden, it would have offered everything I needed, however it was back at what had been home, and there was no other space being offered on which to now pitch it… It’s that Town & Cuntry Planning act all over again – if I’d been allowed to relocate the shed to the woods I’d have been fine. Why do two people have to work their entire lives just to pay for a place to live, and by what strange fate is the cost of housing coincidentally about the same figure as that which can be raised by two people working their entire lives… The initial trickle of sky-piss had been enough to lift me from the stream of my dream and I bemusedly prepared to initiate ‘Operation Not Soaked’. I can’t say I’d planned it sufficiently well but things started out ok as I’d just spared myself the grossly inconvenient indignity of becoming sodden straight off the bat, but from there on in arrangements predominantly consisted of me being stood up, leaning against the base of the magnificent tree, sleeping bag worn wrong-way-down over my head just like an ankle length hat. I let the weighty sleep meds lower my threshold of ‘BLOODY HELL’ to the point where I dozed off a couple of hours at a time. Yes, I have conducted scientific tests and it is in reality possible to slumber solidly while saturated, slumped on a tree in standing somnambulism. I proved it, though I might suggest there comes a point where being beside the tree as it conduits & funnels accumulated water towards its heart doesn’t work so well, no? I suppose trees are made in such a form as to funnel any available moisture toward their base, and thereby to its roots, in this case via me. Indeed each swaying branch or shaken leaf was aiming its moist cargo unswervingly in the direction of my shivering en-sleeved semi-self, but I just stood there and took it. Maybe you should try it if you’ve not already? To model all this in a convenient manner switch off the lights in your shower room, stand leaning against a tree analogue, or just put a bit of actual mossy tree in your shower if you’re really dedicated. Wear a cheap sleeping bag bottom-end-on-top and have the shower turned to the coldest cold. Now internally repeat ‘Noah calling Mount Ararat, come in Ararat...’ and switch on a couple of very cold fans. Make an effort to synthesize the overwhelming, if not all encompassing sensation of your entire bloody life having collapsed, and then snatch uncomfortable standing sleep for two hours at a time. Granted any discovery has to be replicable to find its place in the pantheon of scientific opinion, but given the right physical, pharmacological and psychological conditions you could do it. I did. Let me know how you get on. As a broadly relevant aside: While we’re trying on other peoples experiences for size (yes we were) might I humbly suggest that trainee psych staff be made to ‘mystery shop’ a ward in the guise of a patient as part of their training. It wouldn’t be too hard as they are all mad too. They’d only do a couple of days, and I can’t imagine it would do anything but illuminate their profession to them on a personal level, & feed into their future practice. Might I also suggest the same in the education of judges, police, prison warders etc. ad inf., which ever their relevant placement might be relative to each of their future functions. Can’t hurt the self-confirming arrogant assed born-in-a-bubble-bastards can it? I was now completely and utterly soaked. The hospital had run me on pretty weighty sleep meds, and that was what I was discharged with, and they were certainly able to keep me well & truly out until I’d become irreparably drenched in a wood in the middle of the night, now slumped at the base of the tree that was supposed to be helping me. I don’t think it said anything about that in the leaflets accompanying the variously coloured pills & capsules, but I couldn’t have told you because I’d burnt them already, they gave off blue-green flames in an earlier vain attempt to enflame my fire, which had long ago died out. Personally, I’m disappointed it took me far too long to grasp that it was drier out away from the tree than under. Now I’ve little doubt that in the right circles this is a well-known thing. Well I didn’t know. By around 4.30am I could no longer submerge myself with sufficient commitment to maintain my wretched saturated semi-sleep, and was forced to take action. Now, one of the League Of Janets had kindly passed on a Bill Bryson book to keep my infantile ill-exercised intellect somehow occupied in my woody time. I’ve not read him before and didn't particularly get engaged by the first couple of pages, and so when I got soaked in the rain that night his hard backed & voluminous work came in very helpful - I opened it in a fanned fashion, added a little petrol, again from the carburettor float bowl, and hurriedly set it alight to form the core of my nascent fire - drying my ass off is not possibly (tho/ough probably) the best use his works ever been put to... I imagine it might make him happy? I know it made the League Of Janets laugh, but whether or not it’s literary sacrilege I couldn’t really say, I’ve only read 2 pages* This fire-making-circa-Fahrenheit 451 capability is one benefit of the printed word that e-books may find exceptionally hard to triumph over. They call it a Kindle, but I doubt it would… My hearth was also warmed by cigarette rolling papers that had become unavoidably conjoined into a huge unusable concertina by the all invasive wet. This of course spells disaster for us roll-your-owners, and I learnt again that night to store packets in different locations so if some went away with the wet, it wasn’t a total disaster. In an inverted way I’d had the same problem on Barbados, in that the inescapable humidity did the same conjuring act of transforming rolling papers into a pack-long string too challenging even for Mssrs. Cheech & Chong off on a weekend in Amsterdam with Hawkwind & Linton Kwesi Johnson & the rest of Hawkwind. * Harry Heine 1797-1856: ‘Where one burns books, there one eventually burns people’ On that adored isle of the bearded trees, which we visited a few times via a long-time-&-beloved college-acquired Bajan friend of ex-Mrs Me, finding cigarette rolling papers presents problems in itself, as tax on ready-mades is so low that no-one smokes roll-ups unless the contents are, shall we say, augmented, and even then they probably use Philly Blunts. Again with the tragedy of capitalism wherein, as was also so often evidenced in what was until recently my scummy home estate, we see people so gripped by poverty that they’re forced to share their ciggies… There are beach public access laws around all but a few hundred feet of the coast of Barbados, and though we had twice stayed in beautiful Cattlewash on the east coast, some way off from the tourist version of the island & just north of Bathsheba, we occasionally travelled to access a beach thru/ough one of the ‘celebrity’ haunted hotel complexes, Sandy Lane I think?, or sometimes Crane Bay, but whichever it was we there exercised a right of way the site security guards would rather we didn’t know about. As we The Crane resort one day, having climbed the rickety wooden steps up the sheer cliff from the bay back to the hotel I paused to smoke a roll up before getting into the hire car, to purposely get lost again just so we could wander around the island thereby to discover some other delightful surprise via whimsical providence. The site guard approached in a firm stance & remonstrated with me for smoking weed round his place. Always maintaining a pleasant island way carried by those that live in localities where, if it kicks off, it really kicks off, but nonetheless he was variously conflicted, vexatious & troubled. It took a little explaining to get him to sniff the poor conical-yet-innocent nicotine provider, and absorb the idea that high tax on ready-mades back home in the Former United Commonwealth Kingdoms meant roll-ups = significant savings, and that swapping to tailor-mades on holiday wasn’t appreciated by this ciggie-connoisseurs palate. He ultimately understood and contentedly smiled us off, and I wished so very wholly that we were somehow made able to never leave; to Crusoe it in a colourful chattel house in a quiet corner of that island, and to see just how little we really needed vs. how much we just wanted. It was my mental malfunction that had seen such sublime sanctuary unsecured, and now, thru/ough the redundancy & failure to recover health, it was forever beyond reach. By this point in the here and then, in the cold rain in the woods, the drizzle had lessened out there in the open, though my ‘helpful’ tree friend continued to channel its accumulated cargo of condensed cloud so that it rained more under than out from under. My literally literary fire had caught, and with the addition of previously collected wood I began working myself towards dryness, once or twice almost setting fire to the steaming ass of my pants. After suitable levels of ‘not so wet, let’s get on’ were reached I damped down the fire & fired up the bike, and headed back towards the Crapopolis that is Nailsburgh, taking a short ‘sojourn par sandwich or similar’ in the nowhere that is Windover. I sheltered from rain in the doorway of a hardware store & watched the morning fruit & veg stalls setting themselves up, as I consumed calories supplied in the much more convenient shape of a can of Dunns River Nourishment, rather than in the solid (subsequently stool inducing) form of the fruit or the veg or convenience store sealed tuna sandwiches etc., that were accumulating there before me. Having assembled their bedouin ‘Vegetarium’ the traders gathered around mugs of tea to look at the bike, then to look at me, and then at the bike again, and I felt it was time to skeedaddle. Not thru/ough any sense of nuisance or danger, merely because that particular morning I just didn’t want/couldn’t encompass talking to people. So instead I rode the wet roads straight to the Doctors surgery to stick in a repeat prescription request and try to sneak a little ‘dry’, as of course I was now soaked again. Drenched but thirsty. Some time after I’d finished the scrip forms (complete with new hospital levels of pillage) and had popped them in the requisite box I remained in the waiting room sitting quietly by a seemingly heatless radiator in the far corner. Eventually, as I failed to warm from the outside I fancied a coffee of sorts from the machine near the desk, and this gave the normally pleasant & quite chatty receptionist opportunity to ask if I had an appointment, in what seemed to me to be a much more frosty & sternly disapproving manner. Perhaps it was just me, but I felt judged & scolded. I’d shuffled out from the safety of my distant corner and was in the process of trying to understand the one armed bandit that was their public drinks dispenser, so I guess she’d leapt in with her query whilst I’d broken cover was vulnerable out in the open at her end of the waiting room, but her communication coincided with me having pushed a button that started the machine into life, either making me a coffee for a cup I’d not yet found or initiating the self destruct mechanism with all the attendant steam & beeping & lights & countdown. She was asking, it was wheezing & whirring towards imminent puddle or implosion & I just did a confused dance which I quite naturally expected her to interpret as a simple but eloquent representation of ‘Ooh, are there any cups, hang on, it’s dispensed one, ok, now what were you asking?’. What must people think of we madites? To make things simple I simply lied and told her I was meeting someone there in 10 minutes and then going on somewhere else. Like any good & gentle fib I could have stretched it out in any one of 15 directions of plausible explanations if pushed, however she, like most, was satisfied with just a headline justification as to why an itinerant puddle had taken up squatters rights in the far corner of her waiting room, so she left it at that. I left too, true to the word of my lie after a further 15 minutes or so, but how exactly does one pull a face of ‘Bloody hell, they’ve not turned up, I’m not hanging around, thanks, byeeee’. I think I’m one step closer to knowing. When I sat back on the bike I got a fresh load of wet arse that undid all the ‘dry warm chair’ I’d just mendaciously purloined, but I also noticed the sky was clearing and that the ‘great sleeping bag drier in the sky’ was shining thru/ough intermittently. So I made my way ‘home’ and set about some housework in the woods. I found my blue cocoon still there, draped over a fence as I’d left it, and set it out drying on a bench, which it did with quite remarkable speed. I too dried out, and was struck with an urge to tidy my environs, so took a carrier bag & collected up discarded beer cans gulped down by alcoholics who’d stopped off on their way home from work to sup a quickly before gargling mouth wash & driving off; food packaging cast away by secret snackers; and yes, just one condom, dealt with like hazardous waste as best I could. I put this collection of the detritus of others by the gate, away from ‘my’ area, to try and best illustrate that it wasn’t me making all that mess, oh no. I could really have done with running water though I had some one litre bottles filled at the local garage – Exterior design, what a headache… But now I also had an interior to consider as I’d relented and bought one of the (back in stock at the multimart) £7 tents, given the major (but soon to be surpassed) drenching that was last nights debacle. Wet had well and truly intruded into happy and triggered the requirement of a solution. Think what you like but reality always sets you right, uh? ‘Caesars Commentaries on the Conquest of Gaul’ refer to having a clear battle plan which understands resources & terrain, but then getting on the field of play and just killing people, depending on what happens, you know? I might see it as ‘Flex plans to meet actuality, it’s only infrequently possible to do the reverse’. Is this another tenet of Solvation? Or simply an act of submission? A symbol of a giving-in a young self told me he wouldn’t do those two or three generative cycles ago. The value range tent was indeed value, pretty good quality & fit for purpose, and took just a few minutes to put up. I didn’t pin down the fly sheet separately but mounted it with the over arching flexible poles at the groundsheet corners, so that nothing at all was actually nailed to the floor, thus, in the event of me having to vacate super fast, it could just be lifted easily and placed outside the gate. I positioned the tent so it rested on top of my rocky rubdown bedstead, and tied the door flap to the mammoth motorsickle. The skull-stone lay naturally at my door, with the hearth just out of ‘easily starting a tent fire’ range in what I considered was a safe & conscientious manner. Having said this, once I was established in what I thought was a smart arrangement then I lay my phone down in front of me whilst I lovingly welcomed the life heat of the fire, and then little more than a crackle-pop-ping later an ember had hurtled itself from its hell and landed on my phone screen with much slightly melty effect. That’s one of the innumerable hexes I’m evidently stricken with - ‘The Curse of the Mildly Inconvenient’ - little things, all the bloody time, it’s quite irritating really. Straight off the top of my broken head I can think of 10 instances, in fact it seems I will… 01. After hunting for something interesting to watch on cable, and finally defeating the schedules and stumbling across a touch of ‘not entirely terrible’, at the very moment I think ‘This is not entirely terrible’ the signal immediately goes kaput… 02. I had a really illuminating example typed in here but the programme crashed, and any attempted re-rendition wouldn’t have the improvised unprompted charm of the first version, and I would always hate it, even if you never knew. 03. After beautiful intimacy with the woman who was to be my ex-wife, I walk across the room & stab my foot on a discarded cocktail stick… 04. I write 90 or so job applications without even a single short-listing… OK, so maybe that one’s just a little more than inconvenient. Maybe that should be on the ‘Curse of the Destroyed Soul’ list… 05. I get made ‘Employee of the Year’ & then made redundant (see latter part of 04 above). 06. I return from a successful installation test run of a new engine, turn the bars hard right to get in front of the house and an errant wire shorts out & sets fire to the electrics thus ruining the bike, and wasting all the work. Oh woe is me n shit. 07. The bike really only likes to break down just before a rainfall of biblical proportions. 08. Something else irritating that seems to happen just as I think things are going well. 09. When recording tracks I might just sneak a fragment of a passing thought that the thing is coming together & BANG, the machine crashes. 10. In later accommodation secured as I will later describe, later, I lose a flatmate who incessantly floods things and gain a next who sets things alight instead. Might the next have an curiosity in having every window & door open to the windy max?, or another whose concern lay in filling every room with earth? It’s not entirely that I believe these things are being done to me, or that they are so irritating or significant/debilitating that they might cause me to fall towards total collapse. It’s just that I’m carrying such a small bag of ‘I is ok’ that, being punch drunk from repeated niggling left jabs I fall to the canvas before the icoming right hook even connects. Though I must admit I could, without much exertion, without doubt think of 50 things I would have done to deserve it all, things done somehow to someone somewhere at somewhen. It’s a bit petty though don’t you think? I mean what must I have done that meant that I would be eternally plagued by such curse events such running out of blank CDs when I only needed just one more to complete the task at hand; or I just arrange somewhere to heap my iPod touch with content, & I drop it smashing the screen; or I’d be riding away from having secured the distant possibility of some work and just as I’m thinking ‘that went well’ I get a nail thru/ough my tyre/ire and have to borrow £10 from one of the League Of Janets for an inner-tube; or I’m constructively dismissed; or my entire life implodes; or; or; etc ad inf. Everything just begins to go ‘not entirely badly’ and then: bang. It’s like standing backwards on the edge of the cliff, and the pitiless game gives me one step forward & two steps back. To paraphrase Einstein contrarily 'In the middle of opportunity lies difficulty'. The glass is half full, but half full of PISS... Oh this Vita Detestabilis. So we’re agreed that my weather reading skills need work, but this tent should cover last nights Intrusions Into Happy, and if it didn’t I could turn up sodden on Asstralls doorstep, as long as it’s not after having taken my sleep meds, under which I lost too much balance to ride, tho/ough I probably would. I was also wholly averse to appearing there as he lived directly beneath the flat that had been our first marital home, the place we brought our first born home to - and being beneath there unlocked a distressing assortment of unkind refractions of recollections of the former state I so desperately thirsted for… Still, at least I had enough actual water to keep me going today.