Journal Entry, 23 Aug 96:
Last night went to Leah Nelson’s lecture on acupuncture at the Derby Back Pain Association. She was fascinating; explained about the 6 different pulses and 38 characteristics which can be discerned in each one, at 24 levels of intensity.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, Five elements, Drugs and Herbal Therapy all used together in sympathy.
28 Apr 95:
Fantabulosa sweetie! Been driving to work early and staying late every night, all this caught up with me and I collapsed into bed about eight o’clock and slept through until two.
At work we are carrying out the TQI project (total quality improvement) and someone has ordered a cost-cutting move; supplying all our products at the low end of their viscosity range. This looks like desperation.
01 May 97:
Last night felt like a turning point; during t’ai chi we did standing chi kung and for the first time I was able to do it without my legs shaking uncontrollably.
Remember, don’t lean back during the ‘push’ of the form.
Tonight, went to vote at the Catholic School down the road, where the kids are watched over by Jesus on the Cross and his mother. Something vaguely creepy about it all.
02 May 97:
Enormous victory for Labour Party over whole UK. Reasons? Tory party disunited over Europe, and not committed to NHS or welfare state.
13 Dec 2019:
Somewhere among my assorted photographs I keep the echo of a broken plate; it’s blue-and-white, just like this one. But the fracture means the purpose once it held is gone.
Tonight we went out for a Christmas meal with my friends from the local amateur writers’ group; there were about fourteen of us present, all drinking, talking loudly, and eating seabass or chicken. After the meal we came home and I went into the kitchen to make coffee.
I didn’t bother turning on the kitchen light.
As I walked into the kitchen I noticed a plate standing in the rack, and I saw – for the first time – a dimple situated at the very centre, brought into focus by the living room light behind me. This was a plate I had purchased over twenty years previously when I lived in Derby, and which had travelled with me to Tamworth, Salford and Leeds.
I went back into the living room with my drink and settled down to watch the arguments about the general election voting which had taken place throughout the day.
The UK had voted three years previously to leave the European Union, but this transition had been halted by various parliamentary moves; we had decided to leave, and then tried to establish the procedures and mechanisms and consequences instead of analysing these factors before the referendum.
In Derby I lived in a smart bedsit located in a former convent with a helical staircase, an elegant table and a hallway light that was permanently on. My few possessions there included magazines (BSH, The Face, Fighting Arts International) and concert programmes from my year in London (Beethoven quartets, Mahler symphonies, Stockhausen piano works, Haydn masses) and four plates.
The sedate tones of the current affairs editor bubbled from the wireless, explaining that an exit poll had been commissioned to predict the outcome of this election. Previous surveys had predicted a modest victory leading to a hung parliament, but this exit poll seemed to suggest a massive majority for the Tory party.
Strange, that I have carried this plate with me from one dwelling to another; it would have been easy and cheap enough to just buy another.
The election campaign has been a raucous yelling match where each side has disputed the claims of the other – and even used misleading data to confuse the electorate. It seems apt that I should find myself admiring a sculpture called Truth and Falsehood. I tried to photograph this piece, but it was on an unlit shelf – the whole point of the exhibition was to show visitors how statues are stored, and how little gallery space is available for their proper display.
The voice continues to drift, soothing and bland, from the radio; massive political upheaval has occurred, with formerly loyal Labour strongholds turning to the Conservative party. British society seems to have cracked like a plate; we can keep all the pieces safe together, but we can never safely eat another meal from this dish. An unseen crack lies between Britain and Ireland, while a bleak stone wall keeps Scotland and England apart.
In Derby, I would make my way to work on foot, watching the two cathedrals steadily move together until at last their spires were lined up. An abandoned corner shop had a window (protected by a rusted wire grid) full of dusty jars, together with a leaflet called ‘Brotherhood of the Living Stones’. I remember a magazine article I encountered which described human colour vision as being dynamic, with the retina spraying out beams of imaginary hollow beads which would break open, creating the impression of different primary hues.
The UK is now going to leave the EU, which will cause great financial turmoil and social disruption. But we were promised that it would be a smooth, effortless procedure after which enormous funding would become available to improve the NHS and infrastructure.