Friday, January 25, 2013

Dear Ralph.

Dear Ralph...


I hoped I'd WAKE UP to a BEAUTIFUL DAY but alas, WHY DOES IT ALWAYS RAIN ON ME? My wife is the opposite: 'I'M ONLY HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS', SHE SAID, but then, she's a STUPID GIRL.

Anyway, I'm not a DAYDREAMER and if I want to do GREAT THINGS I can't SIT DOWN with an OK COMPUTER and be TIED TO THE 90s. Like most GIRLS AND BOYS I'd like to be a FILMSTAR or a ROCK'n'ROLL STAR, but that idea is just TRASH, and there is no need for a SLIGHT RETURN to those BLUE SKIES ideas.

Since having BABIES I'm out of touch with the COMMON PEOPLE, there's no CONNECTION anymore and I don't even bother searching out SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND: I'm no longer SORTED FOR Es AND WHIZZ, or CIGARETTES AND ALCOHOL. I certainly can't COME OUT 2NITE, so don't stay ON STANDBY.


 Anyway, WHAT DO I DO NOW?

 Jamie x

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Only Living Boy in New Cross

I miss London, a lot. But then I see what I have here and I'm happier than I think would be possible there.

But in a heap of Yuletide nostalgia I wrote a short story, creative non-fiction, life writing, based on actual events. It's about a night club in New Cross called The Venue, which is where myself and my friends used to go every weekend when we were at school.

It's been published by the (now) online Smoke magazine - a self-styled London Peculiar, words and images inspired by the city. It'll be in a book, they say, one day. That'll be cool.

Here's their rather lovely introduction...

"Belated New Year greetings to all. 

And first up in 2013 is another piece from our Night Bus To Camden project, as Jamie Woods recalls being sixteen at the New Cross Venue back in the days when it used to put on real bands rather than Coldplace, the Antarctic Monkeys and Maybe Gaga (“the UK’s No. 1 Lady Gaga tribute band”), when no one used to check IDs, and when ladies had to pay more than £1 admission on Fridays before midnight. 

This might also be your only chance to read a piece of literature that takes its title from a Carter USM song – or at least until Hilary Mantel publishes the third part of her Wolf Hall trilogy and reveals that Thomas Cromwell’s nickname for Henry VIII was Sheriff Fatman."

click here to read 'The Comfort and the Joy of Feeling Lost' by Jamie Woods

Janathon Fail

I couldn't do it.
I had a bad back on Monday and couldn't do anything. Today I had about 3 hours sleep and 10 hours out of the house at work. I'm now wrestling a little girl who WON'T GO TO SLEEP.
I've still been running a couple of times this week and walking everyday.
But the essay writing has got in the way of the blogging, and LIFE and BABY and JOB have got in the way of the running.
And when I was running / am running, all I can think about is my essay.
A great start to the year though. I did 5km yesterday in a time I haven't got near to since September. I'm running when I can, but I just can't commit to everyday run and blog.
So I quit. Sorry guys. Sorry Cathy.

I'm still eating fruit everyday though. So hurrah.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Janathon #6

When I run, I listen to music on my headphones. When I was younger, I listened to music pretty much constantly, on an array of Sony Walkmans and cheaper, Aiwa or Bush branded cassette players. All of which missed some component: the battery casing, the front, the rewind button. I moved on to a Goodmans portable CD player, which spat out spent batteries in no time. 

A brief foray into minidisc, one which we're both embarrassed and ashamed by, then back to my beautiful chrome Sony Walkman with proper clunky buttons. And now, IN THE FUTURE, to a bunch of shit MP3 players. All MP3 players are shit, no matter how fancy they are dressed up. I just don’t get on with them. They do not operate in the way I want them too. This is not me being a luddite, this is me not syncing with technology: bitrates, playlists, play queues, filenames and album art.

So I listen, instead, to music on my phone. It’s vaguely functional, semi-intuitive, and very annoying. And I’m sick of ripping CDs and copying them onto devices and so on and so on. So I only have a limited selection to choose from when I run. Currently, I’m alternating between James’ Fresh as a Daisy singles collection, Belle & Sebastian Write About Love, and the first The Lovely Eggs LP.

So that’s running sorted. But writing... that’s more difficult. With any significant writing project I have a soundtrack – whether it’s an album or band I listen to when I write, or an integral soundtrack that the character would listen to within the text. I have a (dark, insular) novel that I’m three (insular, bleak) chapters through, and the only music I can listen to when writing it is The Holy Bible by the Manics (dark, insular, bleak). There’s only so much of that process I can take.

Two of my current projects have no soundtrack. I think that this is why I’m finding it difficult to really get into them. I've always been aware of the correlation between my writing and music, but I never realised it was so symbiotic. Which leads me to question: why am I currently writing an essay on ‘Creative Process’ about the joy of intertext and authorship, when perhaps it should be about music as an accompanying muse? (But not the band Muse, who I dislike. A lot.) Perhaps I’ll save that for further study. Back to Barthes for me.

Janathon: ran 5km.
Fruitalution: ate another boring apple. No! Tomatoes are fruit too. I ate lots of cherry tomatoes. And an apple.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Janathon #5

So, this is something that I've been working on in my head, and during today's Janathon run I managed to piece it together. It's part of a much longer piece that I'm writing. The narrator is a girl who has gone to meet her sister in London.

--- Lyssa ---

On the tube, I get the chance to take a good look at my older sister. She’s skinnier than the last time I saw her. She looks dreamy and blissful, too. She’s wearing sandals, denim mini-skirt, and a baggy loose-knit jumper, bright pink, with just a black push-up bra underneath. She’s got this ridiculously cute hat, with a dog’s face on it, and little ears sticking out the top. Lyssa has been seeing Denny for a while now. That’s who we’re going to see, on the other side of London, south of the river and all that.

We get off at Brixton. Back streets and alleyways, and then she tells me we’re at his place. His flat is ex-local authority, ex-official inhabitants. Demolition notices are all over the walls, we have to squeeze through two fences to get in. Lyssa does it with such ease: me, I’ve snagged my jeans and got a little tear on my coat. I’m not happy. She cuts across the debris and litter and decaying furniture in what I guess must have been a communal courtyard. She hasn’t changed from when we were kids. She doesn’t walk: she glides and skips at the same time with undulating fluidity. Not for the first time in my life, I want to be just like her. They’ve turned the power off, so the lifts don’t work. Seventh floor. That’s fourteen flights of stairs. Twelve stairs per flight: that’s 168 stairs, assuming, of course, that each flight has the same amount of stairs. The stairwell stinks of piss, vomit, and rubbish bags. There are coke cans and takeaway cartons and cigarette butts and black spoons and sludge, and vile black sludge. I’m feeling sick so I look up at my sister, climbing the stairs ahead of me as easily as if she was going down them, none of my huffing and trudging. At the seventh floor, we go through the door onto Denny’s walkway. There were twelve steps on each flight.

Denny is outside his flat. He’s smoking a roll-up, leaning on the balustrade, surveying the sprawl of Brixton towards Battersea Power Station, and the Thames. It’s quite a view. His shirt is undone, there’s a deep red stain on his combats, and yeah, fuck yeah, I can see what she sees in him.


Janathon activity: running 5km
Minutes I knocked off my Year’s Best time: 3
Fruitilution: Tangerine

Friday, January 4, 2013

Janathon #4

Fridays and exercise do not compute.

I walked a mile. I walked more than a mile, but I walked one whole mile with intent.

The intent, the incentive, was to get home. Half the walk was to catch a bus to catch another bus, and then the other half was to get home, warm.

I finished work at 9pm. I got home at 10.20pm. I’m back there at 9 tomorrow morning.

Home is where the heart is, where it lives: home is the ribcage to my existence, and it’s not the actual ‘work’ that I resent as much as the being away from my family. I mean, when they are as cute as this, who would want to be away all day?

I nicked the photo from my wife's blog. She’s doing a less frenetic Janathon. Her name is Beth...

Janathon activity: walked a mile.
Time spent at work: twice as long as yesterday.
New Year’s fruit: Does cucumber count? No? Oh, OK, apple again.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Janathon #3

My Shoes

I have owned – multi-blue suede Fila skate shoes, navy Vans that turned grey with age, kangaroo leather Adidas moulded stud football boots. Black DMs, blue DMs, steel toe-capped DMs and DM shoes to wear to school. Green Reebok basketball boots trainers, gold Nike Air cross-trainers and two pairs of Adidas Torsion tennis shoes in alternate colourways.

I wear my Converse everyday now. Blue low-top, blue low-top with double tongue, brown low-top also with double tongue, red low-top, Blue high-top, and Batman / Joker black/white/silver high-top. I also have a pair of Karrimor running shoes, and a pair of black leather shoes for funerals.

I would rather never have to wear shoes at all. I tried it one summer, in Scandinavia. I played football on gravel and danced on shingle and walked in the woods and went into town. The first day I relented was the day a four-inch rusty nail went through the sole of my Hi-Tec hi-tops and into my foot. I was rushed into a strange late-night Norwegian doctor’s office, jabbed with a tetanus booster and the puncture was treated. Within hours my foot had stopped throbbing, but my arm blistered and bubbled where the needle had punctured. And the midges and mossies came for trainers, blood-soaked as they were. But they were the only shoes I had with me, and I felt like that kid from Peanuts, Pig-Pen, as there I was, the boy with the flies swarming around his foot. 

My feet weren’t designed to wear shoes, and I’m not saying this like that Barefoot Doctor fella or a hippy (see blogposts passim) but as someone whose feet are simply the wrong size: too wide, too long, too high and too silly. Every pair of size 12 shoes I wear I burst through at the toe. Every pair of size 14 shoes I wear makes me walk like a clown. My running shoes are a size 13 and they are white and, according to my strict (although oft-broken) rules of fashion, no-one should ever wear white trainers unless they are taking part in sport. And even then, only at Wimbledon, or if you can’t afford running shoes that fit properly.

Janathon miles I walked: 1 (in my own shoes, not somebody else's.
New Year’s Fruitalution: Cranberries
Do I run everyday?: No.
Hours slept: Nowhere near enough.
Hours worked: Too many.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Janathon #2

After Roadrunner (not the cartoon)

Roadrunner once.
Roadrunner twice.
I’m in Love with Rock’n’roll... and
I run every night.
iPod on I grind my knee cartilage and the broken soles of my feet into the pavement.
iPod on I justify having three sugars in my coffee and that slice of Rocky Road and a packet of crisps.
iPod on I run in the rain, through the mist.
iPod on I run through the new-build estate, between houses arranged haphazardly in cul-de-sacs, then down the only access road, up the hill, over the motorway bridge, over the headlights glaring.
iPod on I run past the RSPCA, round the tired and waterlogged park, past the farm, taking in the grim burning smell of the 3M factory and then back, across the motorway bridge, up the access road and I keep going past my house until the voice in my ear says: 5 kilometers.
I’ve got the power of the modern sound.
I’m going faster miles an hour.

Janathon activity: Ran 5 km.
New Year’s Resolution:  I ate a Tangerine (yesterdays was an apple).
Apologies to Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers: 1
Long walks round IKEA beforehand with wife and 3 yr old and baby: 1, lasted several hours.
Dining room chairs bought, even though we don’t have a dining room: 2.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Janathon #1

I ran 3k, but felt like a fraud. My running kit gleaming, reflecting car lights, shoes white. It was January 1st and there I was, running around like some Olympics-bandwagonesque-soon-to-quit-New-Year's-Resolution-Jogger, – the likes of which are scorned on Joao Morais’ blog.

But I’m not One Of Them, I’m not. Yes, my thermal UV resistant waterproof breathable technical sport kit is shiny, ‘cos all running clothes have reflective bits on, and they’re made of the finest fabrics that industry can cobble together. And my trainers are white cos I’m not some cross-country type who runs in the woods or through puddles. Ugh... the mere thought of running in mud. And maybe I did get this hat for Christmas and it’s making its debut tonight, but that’s not the point.

I was only running because of Janathon, though. I’ve been finding it hard to find the time in which to run, since the baby, and since starting Uni, and because of all the long days and nights and commuting and napping I’m not in the best condition. So to incentivise me, the shame of the internet communal campaign: social participation, twit-nagging and email reminders. And the fact I’m off Uni until the 28th, and I’ve got an essay due in soon. Therefore my digression is required.

The idea of Janathon is to do some form of exercise each day, and blog about it, in some way. Which seems to me to be the hardest part: I usually use my running time to sort out my head and to sort out my writing, ultimately I use running as an opportunity for what my son calls ‘a piece of quiet’ in which to have a dialogue with myself or to lose myself in whatever songs are blasting through my earphones (OK, they were a Christmas present too... but they’re special sweatproof running ones alright?). So I don’t know how these 31 blog posts will turn out. But we’ll see.

Janathon activity: Ran 3 km.
New Year’s Resolution: eat a bit of fruit every day.
Alcohol units consumed on New Year’s Eve: 0
Alcohol intended to be consumed but couldn’t due to responsibility for a six-week-old baby: 1 bottle of Chilean red.
Long walks round the woods beforehand with wife and 3 yr old and baby: 1, also 3km.