Thursday, 25 August 2016

Chipping Away




This last week I haven't so much turned over a new leaf as "had a look at a tree."
Isolated and not doing much my horizons were never really that broad but this week I've decided to actually do 'stuff'.

So I made up my mind to go running.

Now...in the UK this was a no-no due to my dodgy knee (that, after 11 months has now healed post ACL repair, and I can actually jog/ run/ sprint again. Oh the joy!) but the weather was more than permitting of those wanting to pound the pavement in a pair of Nike trainers.

I.e the weather is usually sucky.

Here in Crete it's between 27 and 35 centigrade (I hate the word 'celsius', sounds like a Wall Street expression for dumping shares) and the wind varies from "get the fucking washing in!" to "pass the factor 50 Ambre Solaire!"

Not wishing to end up in a sunstroke-induced coma I got up at 7am and went for a light jog last Monday.

And I mean LIGHT.

About 8 to 10 minutes, albeit on dirt tracks as well as tarmac and grass at a gentle pace that would make Eddie Izzard snigger into his pink beret with barely concealed derisory laughter. I got back and went back to bed.

Two days later I had another pop at it, this time about 10 to 11 minutes, and an extra 50 yards bunged on the end. Only problem was that I went at about 6.30pm instead of the morning and REALLY paid for that.

Got in and lay on the bed, thumbed the remote control for the air con, and lay there soaking in sweat for about 20 minutes until my heart rate slowed to normal.

Today I went again, waiting until 7-ish pm and just got back now, had a shower and a glass of juice and I no longer feel like Satan just blew cigar smoke in my face like the first two times.

Now....this may seem mundane or even banal BUT exercise for me lately (and by that I mean since September of last year when the surgeon was fiddling around inside my kneecap) has been a case of "meh!"

I have gone into most things half heartedly and without passion. A holiday for me was getting very drunk, trying to get laid and nursing bad hangovers.

Getting up at what, even a few weeks ago, would have felt like half past cunt in the morning, was UNHEARD OF. Not only did I do this but enjoyed it too.

I've also managed, twice this week to do the hitherto proscribed act of...KNOWING WHEN I'VE HAD ENOUGH BOOZE AND GOING HOME.....TO BED....ALONE...WITHOUT SULKING.

I've been snorkelling 4 times and today for the first time was able to hold my breath for something that even slightly felt like a reasonable amount of time and not a duck dive.

Last night I went out for dinner with two young ladies I'd met at the beach last week who were keen to try "the best calamari in town". One was, in fact, so keen to eat it that she threatened genocide upon me and those I love, plus whichever restaurant I recommended if the squids weren't quite squiffy enough.

Turned out she was happy so I avoided any ocular mayhem from her knife and fork.
Thing was....we had just the dinner (which fucking rocked, best calamari EVER) and two jugs of water and then went home.

This was enough.

And while I thought about drinking loads and was vaguely jealous that they were about to go back to the youth hostel that I've been banned from for 3 years now...the larger part of me was grateful simply to have had that meal and that chat and looked out over that sea as the sun set, without wanting or expecting any more.


Chipping away.



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And, due to the daft cunt who tried to comment on The Anger Master, I am now moderating all comments. It went automatically into the Spam folder where I then put it out of its misery. If you're going to be THAT insulting and libellous at least use your real name and don't sign it "Anonymous".
I tolerate and even welcome vitriolic criticism but opinions on my suitability to teach kids, whether I lied about my knee injury, and allegations of misogyny will only get you binned.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Anger Master




Roughly a month ago I decided to jack everything in the UK and move abroad. It's not a long story as to why but it took around 2 weeks for me to finally make my mind up.

I'd done this before. Twice in fact. 1995 and 2008. Just packed all my troubles in an old kit bag (well, actually a Karrimor 50L) and buggered off. I find England and the UK in general frustrating at the best of times and this feeling has got worse over the past few years. Coming back after a month in Israel, Moldova and Crete to find that scrawny little cunt Theresa May on the PM's throne was the final straw.

So I pondered and thought and meditated and wondered and finally...I decided that the money Royal Mail paid me to medically retire back in April will sustain me for a year or so and I want to actually see some of this world before I croak.  I'm tired of hoarding cash to alleviate the fear that one day I will be O.L.D and at the mercy of an uncaring state healthcare/ welfare system. I had a wonderful apartment in Royal Leamington Spa (only 3 towns in the UK have the prefix "Royal". You basically have to be uber posh to get that) but it was the ONLY thing keeping me rooted apart from my little black 'n' white cat Rain.

So, an aquaintance took on the apartment, Rain went to the RSPCA and all my worldly possessions were sold or put in storage or given away.

Nervous yet relaxed I said my goodbyes to various pals and my students at Junior Safe Krav Maga. I was in a place where I realised change was necessary but I didn't know precisely what it was.

I flew back to Crete where my father lives in the gorgeous village of Plakias and did more or less what I always do.

I got riotously pissed up.

This lasted 6 days until I spent 15 hours in bed and physically couldn't take another sip of alcohol. The next day when I went to settle my bar tab, the owner of the pub, who's a good friend of mine and my Dad, said solemnly:

"Yesterday you drank between 22 and 25 shots of Raki and 6 beers. Why? Is this necessary? One day you will grow up and learn to drink. You are still 20 years old with regard to drinking. Do you even enjoy getting that drunk?"

It occurred to me that when the guy selling you the booze tells you to reign it in, then you are probably pushing it too hard.

Once my hangover subsided (about 2 days later) I analysed what was going on and it came down to a very simple answer.

I've spent my entire life feeling angry.

I've felt injustice, pain (physical, emotional and spiritual), betrayal, heartache, grief and loss. I've been focussed on just how shit my life could be that I was unable to enjoy other emotions properly. EVERYTHING I felt was tempered with a layer of anger.

When I ground coffee beans to make my morning cup, I'd be annoyed that the grinding took too long.

When I walked to where my car was parked, I'd be fucked off that it was further than I wanted it to be.

When I got to work I'd be counting down the hours until I could fuck off home again.

When I got home I'd lament that my cat had shedded hair AGAIN all over my bed.

The list goes on.

To actually be at peace with my daily life was something I'd rarely experienced. Actually enjoying being alive for the sake of it. Not trying to hit some unattainable goal of proving to the universe that I had seized the day and actually done something.

I was the master of my own anger. Able to use it to survive each day. Taking pleasure in telling cold callers from some cynical insurance firm to "go fuck yourself you cunt" and then taking even more pleasure in rejecting the call each time whoever it was kept ringing back.  Any reason to let a little bit of anger seep out was a bitter pleasure. I remember finding that someone had parked their car on the street RIGHT UP AGAINST MY FRONT BUMPER. So I just got in and pushed their car right out the way (and onto the double yellow lines they'd been so desperately trying to avoid when they parked like a div). That was a special moment, a lottery scratchcard win. I was able to righteously let rip with a tiny amount of my well fermented, bottled up and noxious anger.

Since I went to settle my bar tab (250 Euros for 6 days) and got told off, I've been forcing myself to relax, think about what it was that was eating away into my enjoyment of life.

Ultimately it was only anger.

About 6 weeks ago I met someone I love very much and spent an evening with her. I wasn't angry, expectant or woeful that at some point she would go home again. I just enjoyed her company and while sad when I knew the time was over, I felt no bitterness or anger at all. Just a peaceful gratitude that I'd seen her again after 10 years and looked in her beautiful eyes as she smiled at me.

Yesterday I had dinner on my own in a mate's restaurant while reading the second Jack Reacher novel (violent and brilliant and how did teeny Tom Cruise EVER get that gig?!!) and met my Dad for a few drinks later on. No arguments, no bitterness no bad thoughts. I just had fun, both on my own and with others. I went for a swim today and fell asleep on a sunbed under a beach umbrella (which I'd paid for by buying a coffee from the taverna that owns that bit of the beach). I woke up relaxed. Then I went home, did some push ups and a little stretching and went for a 2 mile run as the sun finally dipped and the temperature became tolerable for exercise more strenuous than sleeping

Anger was the killer. It was a thing I thought was keeping me going. It has fought back against being banished this week but I'll leave the last word to Auguries of Innocence.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

Yeah, I can go for that Mr Blake.