Friday, March 28, 2008

The Hill District

We’re off for a week’s holiday in the Lake District. For the benefit of my one regular American visitor (and here I’m using “regular” in the sense of “reasonably frequent” rather than “average”, because Bob’s from Iowa, and who the hell knows what’s average for Iowa?) I should explain that the Lake District is a district in England where there are a lot of lakes.

And hills. It could quite justifiably be called the Hill District. But it isn’t, so let’s not waste any more time on that one. What most people do when on holiday in the Lake District is climb the hills and look down at the lakes, unless they can’t be bothered, in which case they sit by the lakes and look up at the hills.

Of course, if you actually live and work in the Lake District it’s likely that you ignore the hills and lakes and just complain that it rains all the time, which it does. Hence the lakes. And the clever name.

Anyway, it’s a place I love. If you can handle slightly demanding hill walking (the kind of walking where you might have to use your hands occasionally – the guidebooks call it a “scramble”) it’s quiet and still, and the air tastes like spring water, and there’s nowhere on the planet I’d rather be.

Back In The Swamp

It seems that the only time I post anything on here these days is to apologise for not posting anything on here, and now I’m doing it again. But today’s a little different.

It’s exactly a year ago today that I gave up my job as a corporate lickspittle and decided to wander the earth having adventures. Like Caine from Kung Fu, but a bit chubbier and a lot less Chinese. To date I'm still in Surrey, which is perhaps not that impressive, although Redhill is certainly the sort of place where you can have adventures. Just not the kind you'd want.

It’s been an oddly fragmented twelve months, and I’m still not making a living out of writing or music as I’d hoped, but I’ve been back to college and gained a formal journalism qualification. I’ve had news stories, reviews and feature articles published in several papers and magazines. I’ve interviewed music journalists, trauma victims, comedians, and the Climate Change Director of Greenpeace in Europe, which is pretty grown-up by my standards.

I’ve discovered that, to my surprise, I’m better at writing news than features, and better at both of those things than subbing, which, as a natural pedant, I thought I’d be good at. I also procrastinate like crazy unless faced with a deadline.

My mother died in December, which is something I’m still getting used to. I’m shamelessly trying to figure out how to get an article out of the event. She’d be proud of me for that. I’m also, as a result, an Irish landlord – like most Irish landlords, of course, I live in England.

Even though I’m determined to make a living out of creative stuff, at the back of my mind I’ve always thought, if the worst came to the worst, I could go back into a finance role. Last week I offered to help someone with an Excel spreadsheet. Spreadsheets were my life for fifteen years, up until I left Nortel Networks last year, and I consider myself an expert. I tried to explain how to do this advanced thing. I couldn’t remember.

So that’s it. Once your gills have gone you can never go back in the swamp.