A shared reality [231]

Greetings from the bar...

I put this shirt on. Just for you.

Now what can I get ya?

We had a visitor.

And what a pleasure it was to host David Charles for a night. It’s the first time we’d had anyone stop over since February. Wonderful to have a new face with new stories.

If you subscribe to David’s newsletter you will know he is currently cycling round the whole of Britain. 4110 miles. He managed this feat 9 years ago and despite the world heading to hell in a hand cart he’s doing it again. That’s if the pandemic will allow him to keep wild camping his way around the coast.

He needed to pop south for a family event this weekend, so taking a short break from the grand plan, he dropped in to us on the way through.

We ate rice and chilli, told stories and drank ale round a fire in the garden. Many tales later, under the stars, the garden bar served seemingly endless beer that David had brought as a gift. The wood smoke didn’t so much as rise as haunt us like a paleolithic ghost.

Here is a moment captured in video.

Gone midnight and smoked like kippers, David crawled into his tent on the lawn and I headed inside to a selfishly comfy bed.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a slightly inebriated chat with a friend. It’s therapeutic, an MOT for your sanity. A chance to remember who you are.

David left the following morning after we nipped out to do some fig scrumping at an 800 year old palace. As he cycled away, my lad turned to me and said. “You have some really cool friends.”

I really do.

I have decided though that my dog is not a very good judge of character.

She has not been keen on two people who have entered the house. A young lady who was terrified of dogs having been bitten as a child, and David. Who loves dogs, but was also bitten as a child. The only thing they have in common is that both David and the young lady are vegans. Oh, and that my already slightly anxious rescue dog liked to bark at them.

So my initial thought was that dogs might be suspicious of vegans. I mean, of what use is a vegan to an animal who’s symbiotic relationship with humans revolves purely around begging? Her fine tuned doe-eyed pleadings demand a fleshy bone. Not a turnip.

But it turns out that dogs can smell fear and it makes them anxious. The jury is still out on that one. After all she also barks at hedgehogs and they are most definitely not vegan.

Currently listening to this but as it progresses I’m feeling I may need to take dance break.

Just ordered their new vinyl on Bandcamp. Don’t forget to support those creatives you care about. ;-)

In other news, if you read the last email you will know I am sadly no longer the owner of Story Maker. My boat finally sold and rather than dwell on how much I miss it, I have taken £300 of the money and begun to experiment in online trading. (All tips welcome).

Yes I’m starting small but depending how things go I may end smaller, so I’m being cautious. I’ve invested in A.I, healthcare, renewables, biotech, wireless charging, wine and cannabis oil.

Currently I have two apps Trading 212 and Freetrade.

If you are interested in having a play commission-free (don’t blame me if you loose all your money) here is a link for Trading 212 that will get us a free share each. And the same for Freetrade but these links I think only work for one person. Let me know if they don’t work and I can try to generate another. DM me on Twitter.

Here is an extract of something I wrote in Beirut around 6 years ago.

A skyline of skeletons

I arrived into town at 4am and Beirut felt magical. Looking out from an apartment balcony the birds sang under dawns first light and it felt like a city at peace.

Six hours later I woke in what seemed like a different place. A cacophony of engine noise, accompanied by shouting, a discordant orchestra of car horns.  The streets swarmed with traffic, kicking up pollution in the midday's heat.

I preferred the view from the balcony in the dim light of dawn. The good, the bad and the ugly that makes up the cityscape of Beirut consists of the good and old. Preserved and hidden French colonial gems, shaded by the tended gardens of the super rich.

The badly shot up and rundown blocks. Bullet holed and mostly abandoned dwellings sit alongside new-builds or half standing equally pock marked, barely habitable hovels. The only sign of life being the multi coloured washing, drying in the glassless windows.

And then there's the ugly. Seventy percent of the remaining architecture. Towering cement boxes. Not interesting enough to be brutalism. Barely functional enough to be useful. Many of these are unfinished projects. Monolithic shells, symbolic of greedy amateur builders and their unrealised quest to make a fast buck from their back gardens.

Beirut's 5000 year old history should have lead up to more than this. Every street a ruined corner and every corner a crane. A two decade civil war stands between the 60's 'Paris of the Middle East' and today's slow and painful recovery. As if at the hands of a cheap plastic surgeon, learning on the job.

Reconstruction money appears to have been focused into the BCD. The Beirut Central District. A pedestrianised area cordoned off by bored soldiers protecting a soulless playground for the rich. Charmless and brand filled, a five minute walk will take you past familiar shop fronts selling obscenely priced luxury trinkets.  Populated by the local elite their faces appear dour. A side effect of botox or a possible mild distain at having to leave their supercar in valet parking.

No one knows the population or make up of this once great city. A census is not allowed.

Every district has a military encampment manned by the Lebanese Army, famously the third best army in the country. Experts in polishing their arsenal of donated military hardware, they only rest to letch at passing girls.

I can’t be certain but I’m pretty sure my hotel in Beirut where I wrote the words above was adjacent to the recent blast.

Lebanon has had enough to deal with. Even before this destruction and loss of life.

An eloquent prepper who is less about guns and more about community, compassion and useful skills.

And to follow. This is stunning. if you are going to watch one thing in this dispatch make it the following video.

I love the camera work, the sentiment and the message. If only all of Youtube was filled with content like this.

How can you not be inspired by that!

Another powerful tune.

Meanwhile, in the US news…

Once upon a time while collaborating on a jigsaw I formulated a talk where I discussed something I called ‘Jigsaw Journalism’. I explained that you not only have to piece together a story assuming there is a solution. But on completion you should also have a better idea for the underlying social issues in the story. I guess it’s similar to solutions journalism and constructive journalism. I still think Jigsaw Journalism sounds better, despite it not having its own Wikipedia page.

And as a nice Segway into a podcast, check out this lovely episode of The Boring Talks. It features jigsaws, their philosophical attributes, health benefits and some fun facts. [Click the pic above for some more jigsaw mashups].

My main purchase this week was this mains conditioner.

Normally aimed at audiophiles who want their music to sound better I’m hoping it will reduce some of the background noise I’m experiencing on the ham radio. In theory, plugging the radio into this means I should be able to hear weaker more distant signals.

At time of writing there are over 1600 subscribers to this email. Thank you for reading.

A small percentage of you are supporting subscribers. As it’s still illegal for me to do my usual work, I send you a very special thank you for investing in my time and efforts.

And thank you also for the comments and emails after my Cornish dispatch, the following podcast and your thoughts and inspiration in the community driven thread.

There have been no new supporting subscribers for a while so I’m going to put the subscription up for new subscribers to $7/month or $75/year.

For those of you subscribed but yet to upgrade and get all the posts, archives and audio, here is a special offer link to upgrade for the old price of £4/month forever. This link will expire but please feel free to share it.

Those who feel they would like to pay a little more can become founding members. No one has done this yet. If you are the first, let me know and we can think of something extra to commemorate the first founding member.

Should subscriptions suddenly take off then I’ll drop the subscription price.

Some links…

A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

Please forward this email or the dispatch web page to one person you think might like it. Here is that special offer link if you’d like to support my work. Or let me know if you’d like all the content but can’t afford it.

Next week looks blissfully empty. I hope to be catching up on some reading. I see cold drinks and shade in my future. Less news, more books and maybe a hammock. Good luck with everything you have planned.

And thanks for reading.

Don’t forget the ice.