OUR-GATE & KERBSIDE

“Fasten your seatbelt says the voice

Inside the plane you can’t hear no noise

Engines made by Rolls Royce

Take your choice

Make mine…” * 

…..Our-gate and Kerbside.

When I first heard of this exotic holiday destination from a friend at school it sounded like an idyllic, Lake District village nestling in the valleys of North West England. The boy who shared his travel plans with me smugly pointed out to me however, that it meant…..our gate (the gate outside his house) and kerbside (the edge of the footpath where it met the road). He wasn’t going anywhere for his summer vacation, he was staying at home. 

Not for him, nor me either at that time either, exotic, international travel. Just expeditions and explorations of the locality; whatever was on the doorstep. Don’t extend too much sympathy to me however, for these restrictions that were imposed on me. Some of the best holiday experiences I ever had were spent exploring the very things that were a stones throw away; things I’d see every day, every week.  

I’m looking forward to some ‘down-time’, but I can’t wait to get immersed in other things too. I encourage you to do likewise, maybe by escaping into a good book; fact or fiction, inquiry or escape, maybe getting lost in a good mystery.  How about developing a love of the outdoors countryside and coastal walks, maybe with the dog and visits to the beach or discovering and investigating local histories, temples and places of interest that you walk past and overlook every day.

Take the opportunity to work on your fitness and get some exercise; running or going to the gym, yoga, swimming, aerobics classes or dancing maybe. Expand your personal interests. For me drawing and painting; I hope to spend days on end doing this!  Music is another creative outlet. Whether listening to music, playing an instrument, singing or writing music, on your own or with friends.

Whatever it is that floats your boat, do it with a passion. Keeping a record of the experience is a great idea too. Keep a journal of all of the various things you get up to….well most of them anyway.

We can really stretch ourselves, our minds and bodies, with the experiences available to us within touching distance of home. Of course the whole experience of travel and visiting new places is fantastic, but so too is taking advantage of where we are, where we live.  Whilst a trip to Rome might be genuinely appealing, we don’t have to go to Italy to sample phenomenal ice cream!

Sometimes staying at home and exploring what’s special, opening those doors to curiosity and discovery, can reap a wonderful harvest. So go on, travel somewhere exotic, enjoy the holiday and enjoy Our-gate and Kerbside.

* Majorca by John Cooper Clarke

KEEPING AHEAD IN THE CROWD

I have never been a rider of motorcycles, but I can certainly see the appeal. Their combination of style and power ooze identity. In my youth the associations with the mod or big bike cultures could be seen every summer, or bank holiday on the roads and resorts around the the UK. Leather or two tone. The rough, raw, throaty presence of the 750 Kawasaki to the Vespa’s chromed and mirrored gleam, these prized and valued accessories were as much the appendages of personality as the clothes and hairstyles; the fashion and trend. From a distance it always seemed more about identity and lifestyle, from footwear to helmet; the ‘family’ one belonged to, rather than fundamentally about transport. The exhilaration and risk of hurtling along at speed, on two wheels, is however, understandably a thrill-seekers utopia. I think I get it.

Since moving to Asia however, the presence of the motorcycle on the road has been far more evident in daily use, by all, young and not so young. Possessing a more utilitarian function, in most cases.

They are everywhere. Barely moving or buzzing and darting into scarcely existing spaces; never a second to lose, ne’er a care in the world.  Swarming to be first, to be to the forefront, cutting the edges. Seemingly always late for something. The centre of all things. Driving can be like rushing roulette; spin the wheels and hold your breath.  

In recent years, ranked the second highest, globally, in driving related fatalities, you’d think taking precautions would be high on the list of priorities. That maybe for motorcyclists wearing a crash helmet would be the first order of the day. Yet every time I drive from A to B I am amazed how few people using bikes wear helmets. How often, the driver might, but the passengers do not. Families, loved ones, children; three, four to a bike; barely a cash-hat in sight. 

Irrespective of whether the law requires the wearing of helmets, the culture would seem to dictate otherwise. The fashion, it seems, is to ‘wing it’. Fatalistic or foolhardy, with an estimated 60 road deaths a day reported across the country and 70% of these involving motorbikes, good sense appears in short supply. 

Motorcycle helmets offer protection obviously for head injuries. They help reduce the impact of wind noise, impacting the eyes and ears so reducing distraction. They improve visibility, with visors reducing glare from the sun. Helmets shield the face and the head protecting from flies and other insects, from stones, gravel, and miscellaneous debris kicked up by other traffic. Not wearing the helmet means your insurances (vehicle and health care) are also likely in jeopardy. 

If only it were cool to wear a crash helmet. If only we could influence the culture, challenge the current trends, redefine fashion. If we can start within our immediate community maybe we can contribute something positive to the cause. Whether students, itching to get out on two wheels, or parent, taking your family to and from school, please; think before you commit. The evidence is incontestable. If motorcyclists are safer wearing protective headwear their passengers are too.

KEEP YOUR HEAD ABOVE THE CROWD- WEAR A HELMET

THE FUTURE’S NOT YET WRITTEN


I am used to blank canvases. They excite me. The optimism for and potential of what might develop; the anticipation, then response. The action. The engagement. The physical act of doing, of making something. The colour that will be applied, rich and vibrant or soft and subtle, embedded with nuance. Textures, tones and tensions. Patterns, geometries and the shapes we make. Our identities, our gestures, our meaning. Thoughts and beliefs, our influences, how and where we draw our lines. Recovering from mistakes, digging in, sticking at it and resolving. Our resilience and the will, the determination to get it right. 

Grasping the opportunity to shape and model, to colour and render, to consider and create, to reflect and comment on the things that chime within us can be a tough thing to do. It certainly isn’t something I’ve ever found that straight forward. For me the blank canvas is a wonderful thing. A blank page, less so.  I find it so much easier in paint than in words. Shakespeare I ain’t! So embarking on a blog is somewhat daunting. However, if I encourage others to step outside their comfort zones, maybe it’s time for me to practice what I preach and to do the same. 

I don’t claim to have a portfolio of solutions to the personal and social challenges lying in wait for us. I doubt I have many answers at all. What will follow though, is hopefully, a reasonably regular flow of thoughts, observations, ideas, responses, opinions, suggestions and even the occasional request, driven by my experiences; what I see and encounter along the way. If ever there is any wit or wisdom struggling to get to the surface, well, I hope we can celebrate these rare moments. 

The future’s not yet written…so here we go…..