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A strange stillness 
Greetings from my shed...
Welcome. You’re in the right place. We’re in the right place.
We are getting ready for guests here. Which means I need to clean up a load of ‘mess’ so the house is a blank canvas for a whole new load of collaborative mess.
Spent most of today moving crap (my crap) from the house into my shed. My shed is already a tip. So much stuff. I'm constantly thinking I need to focus on getting rid of said stuff when I read...
“No one has had a greater sense of well-being than... a collector. Ownership is the most intimate relationship one can have to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who comes alive in them.” ~ Walter Benjamin
Ok. I'll hang on to all my crap. Walter (who was defiantly not a minimalist) says it’s ok.
In other news my watch told me my resting heart rate was down this week. Perhaps it’s a coincidence but my screen time is also down and my reading is up.
I’m also having one last writing spurt before the big slow down. Writing always leads me somewhere. As does the curation of this email. Past the ghosts, through the tiredness and away from distractions. This is my medicine and I hope you also get something out of it. Maybe it eases a yearning, scratches an itch, inspires you to act or just helps you understand the world a little better.
With all the online weirdness going on. I’m glad we have this space. I love it when you comment, reply to an email, or just ‘like’ a post to remind me you’re there.
Messing with rendered images like the one at the top of this dispatch has me questioning the origins of lots of imagery I come across online. When I see the pictures illustrating articles like Christmas through the ages I’m guessing they are legit but it would be so easy to create similar.
The more I see people recreating antique photography to have a weird or quirky twist, the more I wonder how we are going to verify the provenance of all these things in years to come. Or even now. A.I fact checking is already struggling with fake news and false research, let’s hope it quickly learns to recognise A.I rendered imagery.
There is so much going on in this video.
The police specifically chose this frame to showcase the video.
Rode a motorbike through Santa Monica earlier this year. It’s not far from where the GoPro fell off and smashed. Wish we’d stopped to take a closer look.
Do you let your hoover take photos of you on the loo and share them to the cloud?
My friend Adrian dropped a short film today…
A short NSFW cartoon.
David Charles and I were chatting in the comments on Beyond the woods and the water discussing just how lightweight you might be able to travel with a Brompton.
It reminded me of back in the 90’s when me and a friend (also called David) would challenge each other to see who could travel the lightest. We headed to Africa with day-packs no bigger than a bumbag. (Fanny pack in American).
As were were stood in the queue for security at Gatwick airport, we humble bragged how well we’d packed. I commented that my chosen luxury item was a mosquito net. David let slip that his was an emergency flare kit. Not the trouser kind. A small selection of explosive capsules, that when attached to the triggering device, equipped you with your own personal shooting star. In three different colours.
This was pre 9-11. When there were fewer CCTV cameras, no liquid ban and you could take ice-axes as hand luggage. Unsurprisingly, explosives of any kind were very much not allowed to be carried on to a flight.
At this point, I took David by the shoulder and we slowly walked backwards out of security into a secluded waiting area. I asked him quietly but sternly why on earth he thought it would be a good idea to carry a flare gun onto a tourist flight bound for The Gambia. David looked at me as if I’d asked a ridiculous question.
“What if the plane crashes?” He said. “Or what if we get lost in the jungle? How will we summon help?”
I’d only been flying internationally for a few years but felt it had been long enough to get a feel for things. When travelling hand luggage, be boring — invisible. It’s far better to stroll through inconspicuously. Smile at everyone, ensure your forehead is dry and do not chew gum. Place your easy to search bag on the conveyor and have nothing on your person that might go beep as you’re scanned. Ideally you need to draw as little attention as possible. This was unlikely to happen as we were now packing a knife, a medial kit with sterile syringes & needles, Valium, Lariam, iodine, Codine and a wire wood saw. Now on top of all this was the small, very illegal selection of explosives.
The emergency flares would have to stay behind.
Surreptitiously, I took out the Leatherman hidden in David’s camera bag and with a surgical slice we managed to insert the flares into the base of an upholstered chair. This may seem reckless and irresponsible but I think at that point we’d already ticked all those boxes. Besides, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Having offloading our dangerous cargo we confidently boarded our package flight without a hitch. We were the only passengers on the flight with no accommodation at the other end. It was also the last tourist flight to land in The Gambia for three weeks, as unfortunately bad timing meant our ‘holiday’ coincided with the 1994 coup.
This might be a story I recount in full in the future. It has chance encounters, the worst meal of my life, gunshots in the night, a daring escape in a smugglers pick-up and a spider bite that almost left me legless.
But on this occasion I’ll skip to three weeks later as (spoiler alert) we arrived back a week later than scheduled on the first plane out, triumphant and alive. We flew straight back into the terminal we left. At which point David wandered off and somehow managed to retrieve the flares from where they’d sat dormant, like a… Well you know what like. I hope I don’t have to say the B word that we don’t say in the context of airports.
David says he still has these flares somewhere. I’m pretty sure that in all that time he’s has more than one emergency. He must have forgotten to pack them.
In lieu of a photo of the pocket flare kit, I shall instead share a photo of the boots I bought for that trip, still going strong 29 years later.
Thanks to the Substack outage this week I took to birdsite to see what happened (no one believes it was scheduled maintenance) and met Taali. I’m so glad I did as I found this track. Love, love, love it.
Other tunes that took me places this week were lovingly supplied by Steve Lawson.
Twenty five percent of the people sat round our Christmas dinner table will be vegan. So we got in a small hamper from La Fauxmagerie. I can’t wait to see how cheesy the cheese is. And what the pumpkin chorizo tastes like.
New socks are likely to feature in the lives of some of you in your immediate future. Why they feature so much at this time of year might be down to Christmas stocking legend. Or because they are affordable and practical, or simply because it’s cold at this time of year. I don’t need any more socks. I might even have enough socks to last me out. I’ve had this pair since the 80’s.
They were bought for an expedition to the alps and are still going strong. They are made by Falke and you can get the updated version for £25. But I don’t think the new versions are better. They only use a 20% wool mix. Mine, if not 100% wool, are at the least 60-80%. The choice to use less natural fibre is often explained away with some statement about performance. But more often than not it’s a cost cutting exercise. We’ve managed for well over a thousand years wearing 100% natural socks. With the choice of natural fibres today it should be easy to use less plastic in our socks. Yes you have to wash wool more carefully and sometimes it does not fare too well when there is a lot of friction. But read the label. Polyethylene, polypropylene, poly(ethylene terephthalate) and poly(vinyl chloride) are among the many non biodegradable plastics that remain a threat to the planet. If 100% does not suit your needs, why not treat yourself to something with a higher mix of bamboo, alpaca, merino, organic cotton, or if you are feeling really fancy cashmere.
I was going to mention silk but after a little research I can see it’s really hard to ethically source. All the above fibres will have some issues in regards to where they are harvested and by who etc. But as a consumer we can only do so much. Or in my case as little as possible. As tempted as I am by the socks linked above. I’ll do my best to make all my current socks last as long as possible.
The deeper I get into this book project the more I rely upon the supporters that pay $5/month to get all the content I share into this feed. Thank you so much. Every one of you. If you are in a position where you’re able upgrade to become a paid subscriber, I’d very much appreciate your support.
If you happen to be opening any boxes this week spare a thought for those GlitterBomb victims as the channel makes it’s final iteration.
It’s hard to calculate how many people live inside the Artic Circle, but I can tell you that none of them are reading this dispatch. According to the Documentally community map that is.
Wordpress launches a newsletter product (link via Richard). You never can tell who will buy up and destroy your favourite platforms so it’s always best to have a back up. Or just like an over indulgent family member this Christmas, your fave platform gets so bloated it can’t stand up any more and keeps falling over.
I’d quite like a website like this. I bet this never needs ‘scheduled maintenance’.
The Brompton Traveler is a fantastic resource should you want to do some long distance miles on the worlds best folding bike.
Time to relax. Embrace the downtime. I hope you get a chance to do nothing. Or zen-like things that feel like nothing. I’ll be doing all the Christmas stuff as well as catching up on some reading, building fires, putting on records, walking in the woods, riding a horse through hyrule and listening to the house when everyone else is asleep. Keep warm and look out for those around you.
Thanks for reading.
“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” ~ Ovid
Relax and wait for the answers.
See you out there.