sport

The Incomplete Angler

Thinking a little more about it, I wonder how similar writing is to angling for a fish.

You should know the fish, your quarry, its repose, what attracts it and what it likes to eat. You bait it appropriately and when it bites, rather than haul it in, care free and rather clumsily, you play it, carefully and craftily, until it is in the net and yours.

I prefer the British way of angling where the fish is set free again, to be tempted and teased by other fisher folk at another time.


I read a story once and now I can’t remember who it was attributed to or who its subject was other than the subject was an eminent thinker. This man would often be seen at a certain lake or riverside, sitting beside a rod and tackle box. Actually, I’m not sure about the tackle box, the absence of one may have drawn the narrator to enquire about his method.

When asked if he’d caught anything, he would reply “nothing”. Then when asked whether he ought to consider changing his bait, he said he never baited his hook to avoid any possible distraction of having to deal with a bite. He simply enjoyed sitting by water, hidden in plain sight amongst fellow anglers so not arousing suspicion, and he found this peace conducive to his true purpose: thinking.

This is probably closer to my relationship with writing and blogging; not so much fishing for readers but fishing for thoughts, amongst the company of fellow bloggers.

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Music: De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum

I was reading an article last week about different country’s attitudes to social media interaction, which must include blogging, and those “taboo” controversial subjects – religion, politics, sport, and music/movies.

Not being religious, I don’t want to be one of those aggressive, brute, atheists I often read in the comments section of national newspapers. I don’t wish to pour scorn on people’s personal faith. Politics, I just don’t understand enough about to argue. As for sport, it’s games – fun to play and all that, but what’s with the tribalism? I never got it.

I was surprised to see “music/movies” included. What can be controversial about those? Surely, both are fair game for social topics. I know there are significant numbers of people who still hold faith in power of The Beatles, and others who feel the same about Led Zeppelin, but generally I’ve found people to be open-minded and curious towards music.

I’ve probably written before that my first foray into blogging was themed around music. It was simply something to write about; I wanted to try blogging and couldn’t think of anything else to write about. It’s often tempting to go back to that theme and write around music till the cows come home but I’m mindful to avoid it. Mainly, I’ve found music to be a personal journey, one not easily put into words. I could do a mix-tape – been there, done that, on a blog, weekly – but who’s interested?


But as it’s Christmas, and I seem to have had a bit of time on my hands this morning, I’ll let the guard down slightly and offer a glimpse of my musical tastes. Bandcamp, whose blog I follow on WP, have posted their top 100 albums of the year and I’ve listened and selected three of those which I quite like (I was happy to hear all of them though some of them once only),

It’s annoying that I can’t get an audio clip to stop playing once another clip is selected. I did try some code – it didn’t work – sorry but life is too short.

Immediately this felt like familiar turf. It’s what I’ve concentrated on for the past decade. I started exploring bebop, and jazz in general, just to get away from pop and the dull, time-worn ubiquity of electric guitar bands. I’ve always had an ear out for jazz, or at least jazziness, but it got serious when I gave Miles Davis a chance. Not being a musician, I wouldn’t say I get the theory involved, but I love the instrumentation, and the sense that they are virtuoso players, not people making sound with the minimum of education.

There’s a whole wide world of music out there though most are content with what’s in their own back yard. It’s a shame, I think. I didn’t know this performer. Though the style is pretty familiar, the vocal is in Korean. I find electronic music – synths and stuff – can go one of two ways, but carefully composed, it’s delightful. I love to get my ears inside those layers of simple, repetitive beats and rhythms. I like mesmeric sounds too, though not necessarily electronic.

I like folk, and I like country. And I like to hear an acoustic guitar being picked, and I like meaningful words. This is a proper ballad, it tells a story, it draws you in, it’s interesting. A ballad isn’t just any old quiet number in the repertoire of a hard rock band. Do me a favour! It’s quite dark this one, isn’t it? I like the ‘cellos too.


What people around the world do and do not talk about on social media.

Bandcamp’s Top 100 2018

Bicycle

I walk down to the art shop in town hoping I could buy a carbon pencil. They didn’t stock them. This doesn’t dampen my mood as the day is still and full of rare sunshine. I think I’ll make the most of it and walk home by way of Cirencester Park, reversing the head clearing stroll.

Once I pass the dogs prohibited sign, the tree lined path grows extremely peaceful, just the occasional huff and slap of joggers. A woman on a short horse passes, giving authoritative instruction to a tall man on a tall horse. He looks sheepish.

These inspire me to think of the activities I could, maybe should, get up to. I used to run but haven’t done for a long time. The urge is there but I worry about the old knees; what would become of them in later years through careless punishment? I also used to skip, not very well, and still have the rope in my bedside drawer. A good leather rope, will last a lifetime, will see me out. Skipping comes to mind as I read an article last weekend on how it is the latest fitness trend. How little do they know. Where did the horse riders come from? Should I pop down for a humiliating taster lesson? Every time I’ve got astride a horse, I couldn’t work out the controls. And they talk excitedly about self-driving cars now? Just test ride a hired horse.

I’ve done dinghy sailing, shooting, archery, and fly-fishing. There’s a lot of equipment though. I like walking (a pair of boots) and cycling (a bike). Well, I’m walking now – it’s about 5 miles, in ordinary shoes, so I’m thinking I should be getting the bike out soon. Yes, biking. Get on it. Soon.

Be careful what you wish for. Once home, I have a call from my wife; my car won’t start. She’s borrowed it while hers is at the garage for a suspected petrol leak. I’m going to meet her and see if anything obvious is wrong, otherwise wait for the recovery services. I’ll go on my bike! The all-terrain one, not the road bike. Surprisingly, only the front tyre needed pumping. Brushing away the cobwebs and sawdust, I get the bike out, pump up the tyre and head off. It’s not too bad riding in January, in the sun, but I’ve got my beanie hat pulled tight over my ears. I could use gloves. They’re in my pockets but I don’t stop to put them on; men, like white knights, don’t do that.

It’s a flat battery. We call the recovery, it’s a three hour wait. We call the garage where my wife’s car sits, ready. Collecting it, she picks up a new set of jump leads. This works! I pack the bike in the back; I’ve forgotten how damn heavy and awkward it is to lift and man-handle into a tight space. It’s an old steel framed job I’ve had for years but I like the way it functions, the brakes, the shifters, everything, and better than any recent model I’ve seen. I’m forever in two minds whether to upgrade it. It’s just an old runabout; I’m in love with a younger racier road model.

I say, never be without a bike. Actually, the more the merrier. It’s one of the essential skills of life, learning to ride a bike. I can still remember the day I asked my Dad to remove the stabilisers from my secondhand 20-inch wheeler, and I was off, away like the wind and never looked back. Well, perhaps when turning right in traffic.

Thinking about…

Running.

Running seems to be the only participatory sport in which enjoyment comes after the event.

Sometimes whilst out walking, and being in an exuberant frame of mind, I fancy breaking into a run. Often in these moments, I do.

I used to run: at school, during winter terms, I’d opt for cross-country in compulsory “games”. This was in preference to rugby when that ceased to be compulsory for my year (I’ve never been much of a team player, much more an individualist). During the summer term, it was athletics, likewise in opposition to the alternative team activity, cricket. In contrast to the cross-country, my warm weather running was the sprint, either 100m or 200m because these suited my natural physique, strength and power. Long distance was, and is, an endurance. Sprinting is over in seconds, a brief burst and its rewards come quicker.

In later life, like a lot of adults, I took up running purely for health and fitness. It was referred to as “jogging” though that term seems to have fallen out of fashion. Basically, long, long minutes of moderately paced running. Slog and boredom. If you’re fortunate you can run in nice, distracting surroundings – a city park, wooded tracks or open spaces – but so many contend with suburban streets and along busy roads. I know beggars can’t be choosers but this would be a disincentive too great.

Running in open spaces can be more enjoyable.

Still, regardless of where we run, it’s a rare thing to see a runner looking as if they’re loving the moment. Most look like they can’t wait for it to be over. For me, this is more than an impression, I know the feeling. When I ran, I’d welcome the sight of the finishing point, whatever was decided and for that final 50 to 100m, I’d sprint like mad, no matter how whacked I’d be feeling – just to get it done and to get some excitement out of it. It always worked. Later, in the shower, I’d be thinking with satisfaction and some pride about the last seconds dash and forget the rest.

My thoughts are turned to running by a magazine article claiming a scientific study has concluded that an hour’s running a day increases your lifespan by seven hours. It’s the article doing the claiming rather than the study. The study, being scientific, would be more careful about such claims, else they’d be unscientific. The media nearly always misrepresent scientific studies. Why? Do most journalists come via literature, the arts and humanities, perhaps? Possibly it’s simply a cynical means to sell media. As often is the case, the article is big on headline and thin on detail. I like to read them just to follow with the readers’ comments.

One that I like quotes Emerson, (Ralph Waldo, preumably),

“It’s not the length of life, but the depth”.

An Hour Of Running May Add 7 Hours To Your Life (Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times)