From surrealism to Roman emperors in the bath

This may be a more relaxed post than usual because… Saturday night rioja and dreamy Max Berlin on the stereo. I feel good. The screen break is currently going very well indeed.

Here’s what happened in February:

  • Practical – admin is on the backburner at last mainly because of setting up a joint account (which the BBC seemed interested in). Vet visits were ongoing as Clem Bundango came down with “the snuffles” (any illness in rabbits is near-death serious).
  • Learning – now up to 300/2000 words of Indonesian vocab so it’s slow-going but I have discovered that the University of Birmingham has an Indonesian Society so I will hopefully be meeting some Orang Indonesia for kopi dan percakapan (coffee and convo) in March. The big news is that my Explore Photomontage course started at last – and I’m really enjoying getting visually creative without needing drawing skills (see Anita Ekberg in NYC’s skyscraper fountain as a work in progress that plays with surreality and scale).
  • Helping – a bit more babysitting, a bit more Stirchley supermarket protesting, a bit of visiting a friend who is temporarily staying in a rest home (strange/conflicted places that don’t seem a good solution to elderly care – read Atul Gawande and Being Mortal for more on this difficult aspect of modern healthcare).
  • Writing – digitised various extracts of London life in the early 1990s into one document; next job is to edit edit edit. Put out a photo/video press release on a local protest that was picked up by the Birmingham Post & Mail. Applied for some writer development help for the next 12 months with Writing West Midlands (scrivener’s fingers crossed). Took a Life Writing day course at the Mac, which mostly made me realise I need to stop doing creative writing exercises and get on and write the damn thing. The tutor’s message of “You’ve got to enjoy it otherwise why do it?” was also a very good one for me.
  • Books – small books are my friends right now: The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide; Noam Chomsky’s Media Control and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. All bath books – is this a thing? TMI?
  • Health/exercise – Scottish country dance x2, tai chi in the park x1, Nordic Walk session up the Lickey Hills, Cotswold hill walk with big sis, swim/sauna x2, allotment digging x3, shot a few hoops with my new birthday basketball and made a new friend (see People).
  • Events – first haircut in five months due to budget restrictions, second Stirchley anti-Lidl protest, Art Show & Tell #2 at the P Cafe, Lobelia’s album launch at the Tower of Song, exhibition at the Wellcome Centre on how we see animals (featuring a guy who lived with a fully-grown Bengal Tiger called Ming and an alligator called Ali in an apartment in Harlem), immersive video installation at the Barbican by Richard Mosse who filmed the refugee crisis with a thermal imaging camera, some interesting new pieces (including photomontage) at New Art West Midlands 2017 at the Mac. Oh yes and a birthday dine-drink family do at the British Oak.
  • People – finally met and chatted properly with Danni S, who went to the very top of my must-meet radar when she offered to dig the allotment: “I love digging!” It was refreshing to meet a confident and interesting lady who baulks at nothing (it seems), says what she wants and then does it. Fair play. Also I now have a basketball pal to play with – a five-foot-tall Iranian lady called Arafeh who used to play back at uni and still shoots a mean hoop decades later.
  • Something new – after four years, Professor Bunminster has finally succumbed to sitting on my lap and being petted. This is a major breakthrough in hoomin-rabbit relations. Also, being February, it was new songbook month at Moselele – we’re now up to Songbook 8, which features such grand tunes as Pink Sunshine by Fuzzbox, Reward by The Teardrop Explodes and a past relationship song to be punctuated and nulled by the mighty uke, Nothing Else Matters by Metallica. Used my new photomontage skills to create my first wedding anniversary card in 21 years.
  • Somewhere new – Cheltenham, a flying visit on the way to a Cotswold spa hotel, as a guest of my sis. Walked up Cooper’s Hill where the famous cheese-rolling takes place; it really is a breakneck gradient.
  • Holiday – two days in the Cotswolds; a trip to that London.

More sabbatical posts are here.