Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Barn Owls

Barn Owls: 'The scientific name comes from the Greek word tyto, which refers to an owl, and alba, the Latin word for white. The common name refers to the owl’s use of man-made structures, like barns, as roosts and nest sites'

I wouldn't describe myself as particularly materialistic person, for example I have yet to conform to the i-pod generation or the bombardment of blackberry's, my dress sense always compromises between what I think looks good to my target audience but an equal consideration to what I find comfortable, rather than what is fashionable. I do not shop at M&S and my weekly food shopping generally IS just 'that any food' that M&S likes to shoot down as inferior to their own. My car [barely] gets me from A to B, its not german, nor does it have vorsprung technik (and I am blissfully naive in the fact I have no idea what that means), nor does it have any je ne se quoi or va va voom. This blog is about something for all intents and purposes would be seen as materialistic, but it is my intention to argue quiet the opposite, and hopefully by the time we are done writing and you reading this blog you will be convinced that this is not a case of materialism, but something far more meaningful, something touching, something beautiful and a quinessential example of the beauty of life. I will talk to you about something very personal and profound to me and my family, im sure for many generations to come, and as the title suggests, I am writing about my beautiful beautiful abobe, the Oldfield Farm Barn.

Throughout my life I have always been fortunate enough to even have a roof under my head (something we all massively take for granted in life). I have constantly moved back and forth within the Cambridgeshire area. I have moved over 6 times already, which is 5 more than most people will ever do in their lifetime. On the other hand I am sure there are those who move far more frequently that I have. But the feeling is still the same, if you move, or even have the mentality of someone who moves, finding somewhere or more precisely someplace you actually call 'home' is very hard. I have always seen home as somewhere you put your head down, somewhere you keep all your junk, somewhere you recover and go out and crack on with the rest of your life. I have lived many shape and size bedrooms, some enough to place band practice and some barely big enough to fit your guitar. 'Home' to me traditonally been a fluid concept that moves as much as I did. This is not to say that this is a bad thing, in fact I rather appreciated the change of scenery, I liked moving, it allowed for new starts, new ideas, new places, new running routes, new cycling routes, new shops, and ultimately new places to explore. But the con is that happiness you feel when you just feel entirely...well, settled. Your actual 'somewhere' you can just go to relax and feel 'yesss...uuuuuuh'. That is a feeling like is priceless and amazing.

Moving houses was a game of often a akin to a game of monopoly for my family and a way of developing, and moving up the property ladder, so to speak. Of course driven entirely by the banker, my mother. My mother is a very intelligent women, of whom I have the up most love and respect for, in addition she is also I very shrewd business woman ( a trait I am learning...slowly). It was then my mother decided that she wanted to built her dream. A dream that I took a long time to understand and am only just beginning to understand to be honest. Over two years ago she saw an 100 year old, run down, barn which was used by a farm for storage and cattle and saw something truly beautiful. Through a series of not so fun family issues, my auntie (mums sister) divorced her then husband and wanted to move out. They say that when one door closes another opens, and this holds perfectly here. A perfect opportunity presented itself, and my mother and aunt started building a new life...in perfect parallel, together. Over the two years you could see the walls coming down and the two of them getting on better than they ever have done, and they understood one another always with the others best interests at heart. When the barns construction began, my mother and auntie oversaw the whole thing. My uncle and his son (my cousin) would so coincidentally happen to be builders and so took on the project guaranteeing at least two years of work, they did most of the construction work, with anything specific such as electrics or roofing done through specialists. The first summer, nearly two years ago now, during the first phase: demolition. I was fortunate enough to spend the whole summer working on the barn. I spent the first week with my younger cousin pull off roofing slates, and the subsequent weeks, we pulled down the double layered white bricks of the barn and restored them and 'cleaned' them with a a rock hammer (the male version of cleaning it seems).

My cousin and I with molegrips in hand -------------------------------------------->
(taking off the roof slates)

These bricks were then used to built the barn once more...just better than it was before (basically). I came back the following spring to build the giant GIANT oak framework, that made up the skeleton of the barn. The days were hot and the sun was beaming, whilst myself, my uncle and my two cousins heaved tonnes of oak beams horizontally and vertically and slotted them into place like a giant jigsaw puzzle. It was strangely a beautiful time in my life and one I shall never forget. I have never worked so physically hard in my life. Coming back that summer I felt amazing, never felt as physically good than after that summer. I found the whole experience as something so detached from the posed pens between my fingers and the second home of the library, it was so liberating to just flip the coin in life for a while, and take a 'break' from my everyday life. I found it so incredibly amazing thing to know you helped in some small way in building your own house. You just appreciate it so so much more, even if is in the most insignificant way in comparison to others. I look around now as I sit and type and I think to myself I know how we built that. I know how that was made. For example, one particular day that springs to mind was the great 'concrete' day'. In one day we entirely concreted the floor of the main barn.I did a lot of wheelbarrowing that day, it was approx 16 tonnes of concrete wheelbarred by hand to provide the underpinning for the tiles my feet are perched on.Amazing to think about, its was an amazing feet to do that those summers ago.

Me lending a hand on the main barn roof ------------------------------------------>

So the barn progressed, and progressed. I had the rather privileged stand point as I would go to university and see the barn perhaps every 5 weeks or so. Progression for me was very obvious and apparent. I felt for my cousins, auntie and mother who saw everything quite literally every day, everything for them was in real time, and I watched the highlights so to speak. Mother took pictures of the whole thing, day by day. We finally moved in once we had sold our old house, moving boxes in and around builders, made cereal amidst the dust and tried to revise to the rhythmic sound of hammers and angle grinders. Now things move even slowly than they ever did, with a picture frame up here, and a plant pot there. But for the first time... I sit and look around me with a content feeling, a feeling that I have never really felt before, the feeling of ....home. My mother, brother and I often joke about this house being what we call the 'forever house'. The house of all houses. Its an amazing feeling to be apart of something so much bigger than yourself. I am but one of many who now live here, and I am a part-timer, but we are all family, and we are all together. There is something truly beautiful and comforting in the fact that you know people who genuinely care for you, are a literally a step away. For those who have not seen this place, its an incredible feeling, you look around and see a house not built for the sake of being built, but something built with emotion. Built with more than just necessity, more than minimal limitation.The beautiful texture of the oak, the lighting, the showers, the fireplaces, the space....this place has little in the way of limitation and more in the form of personality and creativity. It has tasteful modernization with something houses often lack, a sense of belonging, history and tradition. What I sit in now is something that will last generations. I cant think of any place more beautiful to raise my children, and my children's children. To me that is the most beautiful and heartfelt compliment I can ever say.

I know that my life will soon me something far far detached from what it is today, and Canada will be a whole new world, a new culture, a new life. I will make alberta my new home. The thought of it makes me so excited. Yet I know that I shall and can never detach myself from here. From what really constitutes home. I love cambridge, and I am forever attached like a barn owl to this place. For those who know me well and/or have seen this place I hope this gives you a small snapshot how it makes me feel and why I talk about it so fondly. For those who don't, I wanted to share something I find truly beautiful and something that truly makes me happy, for so many reasons other than the bricks and mortar. Its a great and beautiful story and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to share it...


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Independence Day [my 4th July !]...

Independence. Independence, like many ideas in life, I thought I understood. It is only when you get older , your experience things, you experience people and all that culminates into a realisation of how little you really know and how little you really understood. I guess Shakespeare's proverb holds water in this case, in that:

'A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool'

You LikeIt. Act 5:Scene 1

I ask you a simple introspective question of: how independent are you?... I give it a second, and then ask you to think again, how independent are you, really? We all love the idea and rhetoric that we are in fact independent. Independent from what? Independence from your family? well, for those who are at university then you feel moving to a new place, with new people, no longer relying on your mother to cook for you. Is that independence? Its a form of I will agree. The notion of independence also sits neatly with positivity. we like the idea that we are or could be independent. Its a positive trait...is it? Too often than not I see people who consider or view themselves and quote unquote independent. Free men they say! well... yeh... cool mate. I can perfectly understand that view point, and it is one I used to take. After all our teenage and adolescent years were all about establishing such a thing. It was the golden years of rebellion, of pushing away those who control you.

My view on independence is that its something far more fluid than a simple, I am or I am not. Dependence more often than not, just shifts. Back to the university example, dependence arguably has simply shifted from your close family, to the government paying for your tuition fees. The institution you study at becomes your new mother, and the peers around, your housemates, become a myriad of dependent connections. Independence isn't established at all. Dependence is dissolved amongst a large series of partnerships giving the illusion of independence. Independence used to be something I sought after. Now I consider it an undesirable outcome in many respects but a necessity in others. Recent events in my life have thrown my independence into perspective. I have realised that I had put my eggs into one basket so to speak. Despite my youthful intentions, I had become all too dependent on a small number of entities, people mainly. It took someone with a considerable level of dissolved dependencies for me to realise that I should revert back to that idea of 'independence'. Canada, good friends, and a series of events have lead me back to an exciting time in my life whereby the status quo is questioned, and once again life asks 'what do you really stand for, and what do you want'. Of which the answer is one I still find unnatural...independence. I feel in many respects I have constantly tried to grow up faster than I ever should have done. I take life too seriously at times, so here is a testament to a new dowling. A dowling a bit more like dowlings have historically been rather than 'should be'. I feel a little regression is on order and to revert back to that great pursuit of something I thought I understood, but now realise I know nothing about. Its time for an adolescent mind I feel, a bit of fun, roll on the good times and once again pursue independence...


Sunday, 21 March 2010

Inspire me, I dare you...

"You have gotta sell life man, anything you do in life you fucking sell it"

What is it that you stand for in life? What is it that you sell? Damn, these are good questions to reflect on...I love it how people typically with single lines simply inspire me. They inspire me to write, to write anything and everything I feel and think. Its why I started writing many years ago, I have journals full of similar stuff and all of it is inspired by people. People are simply...inspirational. They are inspirational in every way, shape and form (a statement I shall challenge later on in this blog). I see and hear people do and say the most incredible things and often with a profound influence on me, and I bet if you thought about it the same is true for all of us. You would be naive to disagree that those around you play a significant part on influencing you and your behaviour, your actions and rather intriguingly, your thoughts. In may 2008 I did something I thought was incredible. I ran my sorry arse 26.3 miles across the scottish landscape of edinburgh in 4hrs:11mins and spent the following two days either in bed or in a cold bath, and struggled to walk (downstairs was the killer). I have just watched one of the highlights of the 'seemingly never ending' saga that has been sport relief. The particular episode I watched was the incredible feet of the 48 year old, stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard who ran 43 marathons in 51 days! just...purely mind boggling. I mean for those who have never done a marathon, not only is it the most amazing and life changing thing, but it also hurts. No question...it bloody hurts. But the achievement far outweighs the pain. Thus for me to truly comprehend Eddie's accomplishment, by that rational, his feeling of accomplishment must be what... x43 greater than mine! The fella ran 1100 miles for god sake! just remarkable. Truly nothing short of inspirational, regardless of who it is. Truly, truly incomprehensible... incomprehensible.

On a lighter note I do find it slightly humorous, yet take no comfort in the fact, that I have been overwhelmingly top trumped by a slightly overweight cross-dresser... grr.

The same is for so SO many people in my life. Almost everyone inspires me in some way. Its what I love about people, something about them either amazes, impresses or I feel admiration for something about their character, about their life. I know some truly remarkable people, I know people who will create and design the greatest of buildings and those who will build them for you. My mother went two failed relationships and raised two children on her own, I know people who came capture whatever he thinks, I know people who can create clothing that will simply blow you away, I know people who can create programmes and speak and write languages I will never understand.I know people who numbers better than I can count, I know people who know more about my physiologically than I do. I know people who try to understand everything around them. I know those who try to change the 'way things work' and can argue a case I couldn't even articulate and so on. This list is infinite... and when you think about it. Its amazing. Furthermore, all that was just on a professional level. On a personal level I know people who have been through stuff I cannot imagine, with history I dream of and have nightmares over. People go through the most incredible stories and live to tell the tale, and I feel privileged they share it with me. People fall in and out of love all around me, they cry, they smile, they scream, they laugh...and all of it amazes me. The people around you can and will do and have been through inspirational things, so next time your in a cafe or the pub, at work or on facebook, spare a thought for those around you who are nothing short of amazing. Nothing short of incredible, inspirational and unquestionably life changing to you. Because its an amazing thought to think that those around you can and will change your life. It is also an amazing thought to think that people in the future are waiting to change it, and (see previous blog)... they are getting there as fast as they can.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Women: Crazy or Genius?

"...and I'm ok with the fact that in probability that day is a very very long way off and may never even come, because as I said, I'm not right for her right now, so why should I torture myself and try and make that change in the present?" (Waters, 2010)

I have had enough of constantly failing to look for diamonds in the rough, yet I continue to find someone that inspires me. I've had a rather intriguing thought running through my head recently. Ill put it bluntly, and is by no means meant in an offensive statement (before the [crazy] feminists start to claw violently at my remarks) The simple question of :

-------Are women either crazy or genius?--------

Perhaps the truth lies more ambiguously and by implication annoyingly for men, that women are a combination of both. Which begs the question of how much crazy and how much genius can women be? (a fine line that I struggle with). I have often been told I attract crazy women, and I think to my dismay that is entirely true. I like crazy, I like weird and I like someone who is that diamond in the rough. My basic logic, albeit entirely flawed as a rational process, is that if you dabble around crazy long enough eventually you will find genius. I hope that one day I will find genius. I have before, undoubtedly...but the wise words of Matt Waters reflects what I really should tell myself at this given point in life. His blog echoed my alter ego and my better conscience. Nice to know that others think on similar lines to your own.

Today, I wanted to dedicate the majority of this blog, not to the constant ramblings of my own words but those around me, such as Matt Waters, who provide inspirational thought on the rather contentious subject matter of women.

In particular I wanted to share a rather beautifully written and geniusly (not 'crazily') message I was sent by Margherita Lisco in response to a facebook comment where I, rather crudely remarked: "I don't understand women". It was sent to me at a point in my life where I found women both insatiable, unsaturated and in all honesty extremely frustrating. I do hope that 'Meg' does not mind my sharing her thoughts, but her words were of great inspiration to me, and I wish more women thought with such depth and clarity. She offers a rather 'Freudian' explanation that women (like men) are living through their childhood. Although I am normally the first to question the rather flawed and fanatical explanations of Freud. This is a very impressive account of relationships and inner desires that I believe all of us can relate to in some way, and provides a rather compelling case from both sides of the coin (men and women). In short, I find it impressive.

As such I dedicate this blog to her, and her 'women-kind'. So please do read, and I'd love to know your thoughts on it:

Meg's Blog...

"If you’re ever been in a sincere, friendly or loving relationship with a girl, the following question may have come up : “Why? Why is she doing that? Why is she complicating things? What makes her confused all the time?”. If this is the case, and I know it is, you should just stop asking. Because if you sometimes felt like you were suffering because of this confusion, you must know that this happens to girls all the time. They ask themselves what you ask yourself before you even have the time to do it and usually without reaching positive conclusions. It is unstoppable, uncontrollable, automatic, possibly genetic. It is a behaviour triggered by uncertain causes, which are always different and are often very stupid, which in turn lead to uncalled-for, exaggerated and incomprehensible reactions!

Girls don’t know why they’re the way they are! What they know is that they’re creative and they may be very persuasive: they will find you a reason for each of their irrational behaviours. They will convince you they’re right, that they know themselves very well and they know you as well. But they’re only deceiving the both of you. The truth is a lot simpler: girls think too much and they talk too much among themselves. They get locked in a limbo which is impossible for them to escape, especially because most of the time they don’t even know they’re in it. They fill themselves with false beliefs from a very young age: they think they’re more mature than men because they think before speaking, because they’re more responsible, and because they express their feelings a lot better. What happens is when they’re just kids, they are all living in a doll’s house, which I can assure you does not make them feel secure, but only gives them the feeling of being different, special and incomprehensibly beautiful! They then carry this belief in their adult age only to find out the brutality of the consequences. Girls are frustrated, insecure, masochistic and scared. They don’t want to suffer, they’re egocentric, selfish, attention-seeking and they want to be loved without there being valid reasons for you to do it. They’re in search of the unconditional love they used to receive when they were just kids, when they were spoiled and treated like princesses just because they were girls. They want that kind of love that is complete, deep, stable; they often feel like they owe something to you which is why they’re the ones attacking you first. They play it as if they’re superior and wise, when all they really want is that you hold them close and tell them: “easy baby, I’m here now and you have nothing to worry about”.

Girls are full of feelings which they sometimes do not know how to control. Sometimes they can’t be rational, realistic, practical and strong: they rather bathe in their own paranoia-filled world and find stability in something that is by definition unstable. This makes them feel needed and allows them to give meaning to your relationship, because while they may drag you into this spiral, only they know how to manage it. They always try keep their hands on to a path of uncertainty as their exit strategy, an excuse to defend themselves against people’s accusation in case they make mistakes (and obviously, they must have good motives, while if you try doing the same you’re just a selfish bastard).

You cannot understand girls. In spite of all this however, you must love girls because they are the sweetest and most lively creatures you will ever find. You must love girls because they live for you and can in one instant pay you back of all the love you drop upon them by making you feel like you’re the centre of the universe. You must love girls because no one else loves like they do, with passion and strong will. Despite being able to make matters more complicated, girls give real love, even if only for an instant, even if they really do make you suffer. Do not condemn them. When they were yours they were honest and you meant the world, but as with many fascinating things it is often hard to keep their attention and ensure your attraction upon them. The mind of a girl is difficult to set, difficult to know and difficult to control.

And if after all this you feel even more confused, well it’s only because this is how it’s meant to be: congratulation, you’re a step closer to our world! Remember to be honest, and to leave them alone when they get too irritated: it’ll be to everyone’s benefit!


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Alberta Adventure...

A little one for you today, and a quick update on my life for those who are interested, for those who are not I would assume will not have come as so far as to read this blog. You may have been wondered what the hell all my little facebook status updates have been all about in recent times. Well, I shall explain. I have been on the hunt for a PhD in recent times, I applied to four universities, two in Canada and two in the UK. I recently received an offer from the University of Alberta within the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. The university is situated in central Canada (Google it if you like), and I shall be starting my great 4 year pursuit of a PhD on the 25th August, I will most likely fly out on the 24th or the 17th August (one for your diaries).

My PhD will hopefully be a cross comparison study of the structural and organisational developments of the priority national sporting governing bodies as a result of continual changes and shifts in funding patterns. For a greater detail of all this, do see my previous blog entitled 'my pursuit of educational excellence', it contains a full version of my UK specific proposal which I developed last year, and intend to adapt to make a cross comparison study next year. My supervisors name is Dr Marvin Washington (american, if you hadn't already guessed), who is an organsiational sociologist. He combines business and organisational theory and applies to the realm of sporting academia. His work is brilliant. I really cant wait to go, I am so so excited by the prospect, and see it as a massive 'big break' and an opportunity to really make something of myself, and genuinely just do something I really enjoy. I always find the opportunity to do a PhD akin to a project to would do as a kid (just obviously a tad more complex and more adult like). Its like being asked to do a project on the one thing you like the most as a kid, like a 'building castles project' or something, and you spend countless hours on it, because you find it genuinely fun, and in this case, you get paid to do it and see one of the most beautiful countries in the world. result. Anyway, that is my (poor) analogy to explain how I feel about it. I cant stop thinking about going, and about Alberta, and the adventures that await across the Atlantic, across the great pond.

I say this not as an empty nicety or polite sign off, but as a truly meant gesture, I will miss you all deeply, and a select few will be truly heart wrenching to leave, I hope that if you would like to visit, or if you are for whatever reason 'in the neighborhood' and by that I mean the continent (large neighborhood you see), do pay me a visit, and hopefully next time we meet I can show and share with you a new world of mine :)