Winding down…

It’s about 6 weeks since I left my job of 18 years and I’ve FINALLY realised that I can afford (literally and figuratively) to take some time to look around, see the World (not the BIG world, just the small World nearby) and simply be for a while, before I launch myself into the pursuit of new work.

deadbike

Stop pedalling girl!

I’ve spent a lot of life rushing about, as we all do and now that I have a rare opportunity to NOT do that for a little while, I should grasp it with both hands.

But it’s harder than you might think, for me anyway. I suppose it’s fear; fear of what will happen if I stop pedalling. I might fall off; never work again, lose myself.

It’s also difficult to watch familiar anchor lines float away into the sky and let them go. The familiar structures of a working life are taken away and you’re left with… yourself. Eeek! Work and the busy-ness (or business) of life are a great distraction, a neat avoidance technique. Take all that away and suddenly you’re exposed. Yikes!

So anyway, determined to achieve a more even and calm state I set out this week to enjoy a bit more and stress a bit less.

tulips and forget-me-nots

Municipal planting at its beautiful best

Has it been a walk in the park? No. I’ve had a walk in the park, several, but it’s been a mixed bag of emotions. Up, down and sideways I’ve been; round and round the garden. While wandering around I’ve been trying to weed out some of the more unhelpful and unnecessary ifs, buts and maybes that circle in my head and overall I think I’m heading in the right direction. But blimey it’s complicated.

Oh and have you spotted the major problem with my leetle plan?  Being determined to become laid back is surely a glorious big fat oxymoron!

Ah well. I won’t give myself grief instead I’ll laugh and give myself credit for getting a few steps closer. At least I’ve recognised what I need to do AND got a few steps closer to achieving it by carving out some entertainment this week. Gigs and art have both been on the menu already.

I was a gigging fiend in my youth – loved it. At least three or four times a week I’d be at some dive bar or pub watching a band play loud. The Pogues (when they were Pogue Mahone and beyond) were probably my favourite band – I’ve seen them play more than 70 times, thought not at all in the last 10 years. I think Shane is a genius songwriter.

Going to see live music unlocks something really special and takes me back to those carefree days (were they?). I love the raw and immediate impact that live music has. It makes me smile and dance and sing. Perfect.

IMG_3824_edited-1

So first up this week was Shugo Tokumaru at the Hoxton Bar and Grill. It being the cooool East End there were many, many beards in the audience, all as eager as us to see this diminutive Japanese man strut his stuff. He plays wonderful rinky-dink pop-filled ditties and is accompanied first by a crazy drummer with a small drum kit and a larger than life attitude to playing it. There’s also a table of toys plus accordian, xylophone and mouth organ – all of which are played by a talented lady who smiles not at all until the gig’s over. Best toy instrument this time: a boxing hand puppet punching a toy tambourine. Joy. Best cover song: Video Killed the Radio Star.

Then on Wednesday night off to see John Grant play at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire via some fine tapas at Tapas Revolution at Westfield. Ooh, it was just like being on holiday – if you ignored the plethora of chain stores in the background that is.

tapas

nom, nom, nom

He’s fantastic, is Mr John Grant. Truly talented. His songs are clever, funny and insightful. Try GMF – his new single and a fine anthem for many of the men in the audience on Wednesday.

He clearly does too much thinking as well, but he channels his beautifully into his fantabulastic songs. He carries the audience with his wonderful resonant voice and makes us all think we can sing. We can’t. He also manages to make everyone feel as though HE is privileged to have all of US watching him. He’s self-deprecating and lovable. Great night.

Incidentally I noticed there was a preponderance of beards at this concert too – not achingly trendy Hoxton ones, but cuddly/cool gay men ones. One way or another the beards have landed.

To complete a music hattrick we were supposed to go and see Alt-J last night but discovered yesterday that our tickets were forgeries. We bought them through Get me in so at least we got a refund, but VERY disappointing. No beards.

By way of compensation, not really but anyway…

Yesterday I went to the Queen’s Gallery with my Mum to see an exhibition of Tudor and Stuart fashion as portrayed in paintings. It was fascinating – there really is a very clear line between the fashion world of then and now. King Charles II was responsible for today’s three piece suit – he introduced its forerunner and pretty much insisted it became fashion. Oh and he favoured a lopsided hairstyle longer on the left than the right. He didn’t do beards though. Wise man.

Some paintings showed outfits that cost the modern equivalent of a house. The outfit might only be worn a handful of times so it was essential to capture its splendour on canvas. Of course if you could afford the frock you could afford the painting.

Though extremely wealthy it wasn’t a throw-away society – clothes and cloth were recycled and reused time and time again; restyled to meet fashion’s new dictats, cut into smaller and smaller pieces and even melted to release the gold and silver threads for reuse. Hence the complete lack of clothes to have survived to the current day. It made the one or two pieces that were on display seem very special indeed.

In Fine Style; The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion is well worth a visit I think. To tempt you here’s one of my favourite paintings…

royal-baby

Portrait of a Young Boy by Paulus Moreelse, 1639.

He looks like he’s on wheels. And notice the creases in his dress – deliberately featured in the painting as a display of wealth – not only can we afford the clothes we can afford to have them carefully pressed as well. I’d better get ironing.

But ironing doesn’t fit with my new found reeeeelaxed self. Back to the park instead I think.

red tulips and daisies

Bethnal Green’s Glorious Gardens

Have a great weekend and please, send me any tips you have for doing this relaxation thing properly!

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4 Responses to “Winding down…”

  1. carole@letthemeatcake.co.uk Says:

    Wow an impressive cultural week – very inspiring and made me realise how I haven’t heard any new sounds for a long time – so appreciate the audio prompt. I think it’s good to take a break and re invigorate the mind with new sounds, smells, tastes and visuals..who knows where they lead….

  2. rachel Says:

    Who’s your babysitter?

    Take your copy of Mindfulness, a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world to the park with you and really, no, REALLY, enjoy the moment.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindfulness-practical-guide-frantic-ebook/dp/B004XCFJ3E/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1

    xx

    • eethree Says:

      Ooh thanks Rachel I shall order the book right now. Just what I need, some practical guidance. Re babysitting – my fab parents stayed for both nights. Like so many things it wouldn’t have been possible without them…

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