I can understand why Jeff Bezos is rich enough that he can pay for a rocket-ship to be built so he can travel to the fringes of outer space.  Almost everyone uses Amazon and we've all reached the point where, if we're not offered next day delivery, we're disappointed and impatient.

Weirdly, I don't want anything from Amazon or from Ebay, or from anywhere else.  I have too much stuff already and I get no buzz from ordering more.  This is probably the first time in my life where I'm not excited by the thought of a new computer.  The eight or nine computers I currently have are fine and fit for purpose.  This laptop I am currently typing on is seven years old and I still count it new-ish in terms of specification and performance (granted it did cost over a thousand pounds when new).

The problem with wanting new stuff is that it's never long until the new stuff isn't new anymore and we're looking for the next fix.  My brother is like that with cars - when he takes the notion for a new car then he can't wait for one.  He has to make the change as quickly as possible.  I don't want a new car.  I bought well when I purchased my last yoke and I'll keep it until it starts to give trouble.

What I want isn't stuff - its peace.  I would love the universe to give my head peace for just a single day.  Right now, even as I type this, there are two workmen who randomly appeared to put new windows in my garage.  They complained, to one another, about there being "stuff" in the way, but they didn't tell me they were coming, so I didn't move the "stuff" so they have to suck it up.  I wish, in their process of sucking it up, they wouldn't keep watching me through my office window whilst cursing about the window frame having to be "millimetrically f***** perfect".

Just one day of peace - Garvagh-esque peace when I would spend long, quiet evenings in my little computer room.  Those were the days.

I wouldn't say I was this bad, but definitely close.

Do you remember flip phones?  There was a stage, prior to touchscreen smartphones, when phones were made to be increasingly small and the best you could hope for was polyphonic ringtones and a colour screen.  How far we've come - my latest phone has 12Gb of main memory whereas this laptop has 8Gb of memory.  There is also more storage space on my phone than there is in this laptop.  Phones have become integral to our lives and the last thing we use them for is making phone calls.

Have we come too far though?  I find myself scrolling through YouTube shorts, which are basically TikTok videos, where people act as if they're not being filmed and then something mad happens.  Millions of people, all around the world, are spending hours every day watching this kind of dross on their phones.  I've also witnessed sagely advice in videos, from what not to eat to how to make your car run better.  Sometimes I buy into the advice and then, at some point, I give myself a shake and ask "why are you listening to some randomer on the Internet?".

We probably peaked, technology-wise, in about 2010.  It was useful without taking over our lives.  YouTube was filled with videos but it didn't intrude so much in our lives.  Twitter wasn't the monster it is now, there was no Instragram and everyone was posting pictures of their cats on Facebook without the virtue signalling and attention-seeking its a home for now.  Your phone wasn't tracking every single thing you say or do and you weren't getting targeted ads as a result.

I'm now going to say "new BMW 5 series" into my phone for maybe 5 times a day to see if an ad for a new BMW 5 series eventually appears.

It looks like its angrily squinting

Its Monday morning and its the longest day of the year.  The sun is shining and there are little birds darting, from tree to tree, across the unblemished blue sky.  I'm looking out at it all from my study while the fan on my laptop whirrs and the sound of yet another arriving email leads me to release a resigned sigh.

Somewhere, someone has it all worked out.  It will be a person who is an expert in something, where they can charge huge amounts for doing something that almost nobody else can do.  This means they don't have to do it very often and they get to spend the longest, potentially sunniest days of the year, not answering emails, badgering staff or preparing for meetings.

My job has become more than a job; it now factors in every moment of my waking life - or at least if would if I let it.  I'm now trying to find ways to deal with people and sort things out while I do other things like walking, shopping, coffee-shopping, etc.

My grandfather was great at fitting in tea breaks.  He used to work at people's houses and they would always offer him tea.  He would never refuse.  My memory is sketchy, but I seem to recall working with him, when I was very young, and we had three tea breaks at three different houses over the course of a day - with our own lunch squeezed in as well.  Maybe he had it worked out.  Maybe its short blasts of work between tea breaks and gossiping.  I just need to find someone to gossip to now!

Really milky tea.  All those people made us really milky tea.

I've fallen back in love with ebay.  I used to buy bits and pieces on it, back when I was working on my PhD, and when I started my business.  Basically, I bought stuff on ebay when I was watching my bank balance and when I had time on my hands.

Times have changed.  I have no need to watch my bank balance, but I had no time recently, what with my job and the house getting reworked and extended.  My major part in the house situation (i.e. getting us moved out before the builders knocked through from the old part to the new) ended last week.  Since then I've been bidding on mad stuff on ebay.  It's mostly been vintage computer parts, but I find myself looking more and more at outlandish purchases.

I would love a brown 1985 Volvo estate; one with a roof rack.  I would have it restored mechanically, but with the bodywork left looking tired.  I would add some fluffy dice to the rear-view mirror and two stickers to the tailgate - an REO Speedwagon logo and a sticker that says "My other car is the Batmobile".  Of course I wouldn't really buy an old Volvo - I have enough to focus on with an old BMW, but I do like the idea of commuting in a time warp car.

Not that I commute anymore.  I really don't miss it and I'm glad that, post Covid, I doubt I'll be joining the masses on the motorway very often.  I must be one of the few people that Covid has worked out for.  I don't particularly want to socialise with colleagues, I hate commuting and I achieve more at home.  Besides, 94% of my staff aren't in this country so there's little point going in to work.  If I did, I would love it to be in a battered 1980s Volvo.

This is perfect.

I stayed at my grandparents' house the night my grandfather died. He'd dropped dead on the sofa, suddenly, although we knew it was likely to happen because we were told his heartbeat sounded like a wet paper bag.  For some reason, I thought it appropriate to wear a suit that night - my recollection confirms that I had a history of that when family members died.  Somehow I always switched to formal, funeral, "I have a job to do" mode.

I've probably written about it before here, over the years, but I can remember my grandmother having to go upstairs for something that night.  My grandfather's body was in his coffin in their bedroom.  I can remember her hesitating about going upstairs, while she stood in the middle of her living room, and then saying "I'm feared".  There she was, at maybe 77 years old, and she was feared at the prospect of going upstairs in the dark because there was a dead body up there.  To this day, something changed inside me because I saw the humanity - the weakness - in a woman who was the centre of my world and who always seemed fearless.  She was afraid and I thought, in my naivety, that at her age, and with her strength, that she wouldn't be afraid of anything.  I remember falling asleep as I sat upright that night, because I was exhausted.  I remember my aunt being there, who would be buried out of that same house and same room, only a few short years later.

I find it odd that she didn't show fear when she died herself approximately five years later.  She hugged me and told me her body was "done".  She told me she us all and that we were her children.  There are times when I miss her so much - her love and that protection that meant we could be innocent and vulnerable children - that it still physically hurts.

Its also made more real because I now know what she meant.  I love my daughter more than I ever thought I could ever love another wee person.  There's a bitter sweet beauty to this life and I wouldn't trade it, despite its sorrows, for anything.

Many years ago, when I spent a summer delivering Chinese takeaways, I went to a man's house to deliver his dinner.  He was standing in the doorway as I pulled up and I called his name to make sure I was at the correct house.  "George Gibson?", I said.  "What's left of him", he replied.

I knew George, from years previous, because we lived next door to his son.  The frail figure who stood in front of me was indeed a shadow of the large, square-chested man from my childhood.

My father is a lot more frail now.  He's a shadow of his former self and it pains me greatly to see him sitting in an armchair with no motivation to do anything.  Every conversation is laboured and we often go over the same talking points from our previous conversation.  He's really thin now, which I suppose is a good thing on account of his diabetes, but it has robbed him of the zest he used to have.

This is life, unfortunate as it is.  We are all on a slow slide down a slippery slope into the unknown of the world that is after.  Perspective is needed.  We shouldn't let little things, which seems like big things in the prime of our lives, to warp our perspective and rob ourselves of the joys of this time, because it will pass and with it hope, opportunity and potential.

I haven't had much to eat today, so I opened a packet of cookies I had in my desk.  I decided a cookie would go well with my coffee.  The problem is that I can't remember if I ate the entire cookie or if I set it down somewhere.  I've looked but it's not sitting somewhere obvious.  A little part of me hopes I left it down because I don't feel like I finished the cookie. I am unfulfilled, but I don't want to eat another cookie because my 6-pack is finally showing and it would be a shame to undo all that good work by eating excessive amounts of rubbish.

Being unfulfilled is a subtle but powerful feeling.  It's like you're getting something, which might be better than not getting it, but you're not getting enough.  It could be sleep, food, conversation, job satisfaction - anything.  There are times when nothing is better than a little because, with a little, you're getting towards fulfillment only for it to be cut short.  It would be like getting two gulps of coffee in the morning or half a slice of toast.  It would be better to have nothing.  Unfulfillment becomes an issue as you get older because you can't carry things through to excess like you can in your youth.  Everything gets moderated and you become more philosophical when you can't have what you want.  The problem is that blow-outs happen.  Well, I imagine they do because I've never reached that point with anything.  I can imagine, though, the desire to say "stuff it" and eat six cookies instead of one.  What it is to be young.  I can remember eating a full cake for lunch once.

 

Cake. Not for lunch.