Archive for the ‘My own endeavours’ Category

As a reader of this post or as a frequent visitor to this site you can with safety, or assuredly if you prefer, assume I both love to write and love chess. The principle difference between them being, and this will indeed sound odd I only write for myself. In chess of course we have an opponent, team mates, tournament participants and so on. Even when we read alone, chess theory or history or whatever chess you are reading has been written by another individual.

This site is all my own. It is the lifeblood of an injured soul, if you like. I do not care whether I am read and the two requests I received last year to write for whatever those publications were, were politely declined…you could, if you like, call this whole thing a personalized prolonging of my love of chess, which in itself is a form of convalescence. Still it is the case that I am engrossed in a writing project already over 30,000 words and with much work ahead still.

Counting the countries I’ve visited has become tiresome. I think its 37. 34 at least. The number of chess clubs around the world I have played in is also numerous, with some being far easier to play chess in than others. The one club which I have now been a part of longer than any other is Bangkok Chess Club. I’ve photographed main events, met world champions and many things on top, I’ve even played some strong chess there too but never organized a tournament.

Last Friday we had around 19 players, of which 16 were up for the weekly blitz tournaments that occur each Friday at Herrity’s Sports Bar on Sukhumvit Soi 33/1.

So I rolled back those years to when I was the tournament organizer for the Kents/Luton Chess Club for 3/4 seasons and got involved. We used a Swiss system of course but it was daunting to organize one section all by myself when it was not I who wrote the names of the players, making me mispronounce them all the time. I did it effectively but found it hard to focus on my chess. Given I am rusty anyway, my results should have been better. Still it was fun, and being thanked for volunteering meant a little something… .

I always write in orange.

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Greetings my dear friends and sincere apologies for my absence. I am still in recovery from a major accident three years back and have found the adjustments to that difficult to say the least. I recently suffered from a seizure which so nearly cost me my life. It did not and instead has jolted me back into action even though I am still injured.

It is my intention to offer a post-modern historical account on the history of Bedfordshire Chess, and I do have a publisher lined up, should I stay alive long enough to complete it. Last year I underwent the process of teaching myself the finer points and methodological procedures of Britain’s most prominent post-modern historians, of whom Jenkins is the one I am learning the most from. But with the British Library remaining rather guarded over their resources, this project has barely got off the ground (although the groundwork is being put in).

More recently I spent a year and more writing about what I gained and did not gain from chess in my youth. That far from finished project is at the 20,000 word mark already and has not one but two appendices; one written within the confines of academic procedure, the other a stylistic device written in ‘teen speak’ if you like…or put differently how I used to speak as the street kid I was and still am. It’s a very broad project which has a narrative beginning many decades before I was born, strictly speaking its a mimeses of life itself, and by mimesis I specifically refer to the term used when Plato’s writings are referenced (more on that to come). Once again, I’m sad to say for local readers, it isn’t the greatest advert for the Bedfordshire Chess League, and worse, to a lesser extent the post prefaces the one preceding this (yes the one with the rather pretentious title).

A devoted reader of this site pointed out that when she knew me, I had dropped my accent. For some time I have wondered about that, as rebuilding who you are after losing your entire memory isn’t exactly easy. Well, anyway, it was because chess players generally don’t speak with the same crude, working class accent I grew up talking with. So, snippets of super-exciting content left to one side: when the project will be complete I don’t know. Will it be worth reading? Not sure also. But what I do know is that health comes first, oh and in addition my writing style has changed considerably, more on that to come later…. .

I don’t yet have full use of my limbs after my most recent seizure and until my health is restored I can’t really write much if anything at all, well not without the concentration it requires that is… .

It was also my intention to rejoin The British Newspaper Archive and post content from that. Again, this is of local interest only and partially explained by the fact that my world view is altered by personal injury, as is the case with everyone else who has had to fight to have their life saved. It’s no longer the case that I can post about anything beyond personal experience within the environment I developed as a player, and offer interpretations of that environment itself -by this I mean differing historical accounts. The world beyond that is too far removed from play, and since when was I ever good enough as a player to comment on it anyway?

Health permitting, and ability to remain alive with an uncrashed head on my bicycle, I do hope to return home around christmas this year, and hopefully play some chess at home. So to conclude, I will bring this site back to life when I am strong enough to do so, and hopefully that will be sooner rather than later… .

Until then… .

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…some Englishman gives up chess to concentrate upon academia. During a summer break, he goes on holiday to Hollywood where every night is party night. There, he dates an academic but when he sees chess played on a street, becomes distracted and loses his waywandering the streets of New York penniless is how his holiday ends…

…he finds his way back to England. The following season he plays chess in that same dull league he left behind, which many years thereafter he bored everyone to tears with on that ghastly blog of his…

“Who on earth wrote this limey nonsense! Dreadful and dreary.”

New York Times Literary Review, February 8th 2017

 

“Good gracious! Sophisticated but oh-so-soporific!”

-The Guardian Literary Supplement, Feb 8th, 2017

 

“What the blazes! A memoir full of misery -avoid reading at all costs!”

-The Bangkok Post, Cultural Review, second section, Feb 8th, 2017

 

‘Romantic and probably well-remembered, pretty engaging really.’

Ridgefield Press, Connecticut, Feb 8th, 2017

 

‘Certainly not the greatest advert for the Bedfordshire Chess League it must be said.’

The Luton News, Bedfordshire, February the eighth, twenty seventeen.

 

‘Utter shite.’

New in Chess, (Double Dutch edition) Februari achtste, twee van een zeven

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“It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.”   
    ― D.W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality                   

 

The emancipation and its beginnings…                                                                     

If I win a tournament, I win it by myself. I do the playing. Nobody helps me.

Bobby Fischer

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Are they Fischer’s hands?

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
― Henry David Thoreau

…in the autumn of nineteen ninety five, I left both chess and Bedfordshire behind when my education branched into Hertfordshire. I studied at a university campus hidden in the woodlands that The River Colne trickled through. Once a stately home in a hallowed antiquity; its empty dining rooms became cluttered seminar halls, which only emptied when lecturers drove home, as afternoons ended and evenings began with journals chosen not only to advance learning but also to abate the boredom of the countryside. I was so scruffy but in that solitude I studied assiduously; something that I had become quite accustomed to, having already wasted spent many years studying chess at home in my room…

…later on in life my education branched beyond the home counties towards our beautiful game, where I rediscovered it buried within the digital revolution which embalms the very words I am typing at present…

The opposite of depression isn’t happiness but vitality.

Andrew Solomon

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Wall Hall Campus. I spent years of my life there studying both analytical and continental Philosophy.

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Myself with two non-chess players and The River Colne all en route to a country pub named The Old Fox, the only thing to do on Sunday afternoons.

Caissa – Little Miss Scare All!

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Beauty is such a terrible thing because no one has fathomed its complexity.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Summer, 1998 – earth and sky become one above Cambridgeshire…

…a parting in the clouds of academia appeared; examinations ended, a conference held by the Aristotelian Society passed, and post-graduate study in Warwickshire was confirmed when the summer in Cambridge came to a close. With little else to do I booked a flight to California so I could cycle along its coastline each afternoon, and when rested, explore the nightlife awaiting. An altogether preferable option to the lanes I took to work everyday: those narrowed by the colleges where annoying tourists meandered by The River Cam, so they could laze on its grassy banks and get drunk together when summer evenings were long…

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Bloody Tourists!

Escapism fuelled by inescapism… 

… a bus to Heathrow took me to where a British Airways jet lifted both bicycle and I above the home counties and with England’s grasslands captured en passant, turbulence over a vast azure of sea shook me out of slumber with a momentary optimism ensuing. Many hours more into the flight, the sky darkened over Greenland then Canada. Whilst contemplative over what lay ahead, the dimly lit food I consumed besides the blackened windows directly above engines was unpalatable. I did not care, I was not hungry. I was satisfied sufficiently by the spectre of darkness I travelled through…

All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without the benefit of experience.

Henry Miller

as that plane landed I felt uplifted, having just arrived in L.A. with chronic jetlag. Up and down then down and up its coastline I cycled, huffing and puffing happily, (except when a juggernaut with a very loud horn chased me off the freeway). Below that blazing sun I gleefully soared over my sweaty saddle along those cycle paths, often pausing for that sugary Gatorade stuff at another store by-the-sea, re-reading Wittgenstein in the shade they furnished those beaches withguzzling it good, wondering how I could follow my favourite lecturer’s advice and ‘do philosophy’ like Socrates on the streets of Athens once did, whilst lazing around on that golden sand with untalkative sunbathers. That was how those first days passed until the afternoon when Labour Day arrived unforeseen and punctured my progress on the path ahead!

The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity (one is unable to notice something because it is always before one’s eyes). The real foundations of his enquiry do not strike a man at all.
― Ludwig Wittgenstein

Labour day…’loving you was like loving the dead’ – Pete Steele…

…I was chauffeured on that day out of kindness and curiosity by a new-found friend, the great, great, great, grandson of the former President of America, Zachary Taylor. Through his well-rehearsed endeavors I was introduced to a Philosophy grad like myself, who unlike myself, spoke with an eloquence that accentuated above the jazz in the background. It was still early afternoon. She sat with her closest friends, one of whom became coquettish upon accompaniment. Tipsy, I sat at their table as a guest being polite rather than gauche, even when my Englishness was prodded at and poked fun of. All laughed loudly when I couldn’t place where Connecticut was, all except the one sat at the far end of the table. After an hour or two passed, we paid up for the empty glasses amassed on the table then left, looking for some fun in the afternoon sun…

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Zachary Taylor

…on a walkway that sloped down to Redondo Beach Harbour was where Rachel and I first came together. We found a bar named Naja’s Place. There, rock music blared on into the evening. Through its raucous crowds was how we entered with no stools to sit on as ‘The Downward Spiral’ by Nine Inch Nails began playing…

…an articulate Ivy League graduate with designer glasses appended to a pretty face -such a woman I had never met before let alone be introduced to. The ageing Bedfordshire Chess League, quiet libraries of Hertfordshire, and cycle lanes of Cambridgeshire were the limits of my world; all that beyond, I had only a passing interest in, believing women were rubbish not very good at chess like me thus not really worth bothering with…

…whilst on Mexican beer I mentioned Wittgenstein briefly, referring to an academic -whose name I can no longer recall- and how his written deliberations always crowded my desk: yet at the Aristotelian conference only weeks before, he nervously asked me whether it would be ‘quite alright’ if I could show him how to open a window he had difficulty with. ‘So’, I thought to myself, ‘publications on Wittgenstein are easily written but opening a window was harder’…have a good chuckle at that we most certainly did until I accidentally spilled beer on someone’s boot. With myself being a pacifist –albeit a rather bad-tempered one- thankfully he did not notice, and being a true American continued his conversation in the loudest most unabated, unabashed manner possible, allowing us to drunkenly ‘do philosophy’. Now very merry charmed by yours truly, -for some impossible reason-, in search of some privacy we left the bar…

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Nondescript yet unforgettable: a progenitor of philia if ever there was one…a downward spiral?

…and staggered along the harbour where wealthier males moored their yachts. There I was cajoled into a smooching session as many in beachwear walked on by…

Man’s happiness today consists in “having fun.” Having fun lies in the satisfaction of consuming and “taking in” commodities, sights, food, drinks, people, lectures, books, movies—all are consumed, swallowed. The world is one great object for our appetite, a big apple, a big bottle, a big breast; we are the sucklers, the eternally expectant ones, the hopeful ones—and the eternally disappointed ones.
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

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About half way along was where that smooching session went on. We were drunk and didn’t care who saw what -how romantic!

…wild nights on the strip in Hollywood were had. One week later, to the acronymized NYC where Rachel awaited, in an American Airlines jet, where big bagels were offered for breakfast I flew: unable to see into the darkening horizon beyond and how to find where the condiments on the tray were hidden. Just as I was about to eat a bagel I was stopped by a hostess. ‘Sir, should you wish to use the lavatory please inform me first’. ‘Er okay, why?’ I asked, somewhat surprised. ‘The lavatories in economy are all malfunctioning. Somebody blocked one with the contents of his back passage. None of them work now’. ‘Oh, that’s rather unfortunate. So if I do need to go, what then?’ I asked trying to sound interested. ‘Sir, the flight is almost empty, we can move you up to business or first. You see sir, you get a higher class of turd in those sections of the aircraft, so you can use the lavatories there if you so wish…mull it over whilst you enjoy that bagel of yours.’ That I did not. ‘Hmm, I intend to stay right where I am and if you offer or even threaten to upgrade me I shall have to write a letter of complaint. I shall stay right where I am. I have no interest in your corporate imposition of class structure. ‘ Off she went in a huff…

…I was met at Newark Airport, New Jersey. There I was given a chocolate bar by Rachel as we boarded a bus that swept us across the cityscape in all its sunlit splendour. Later that evening, as Rachel lay asleep, I ate her gift and slowly drifted into thoughts of how summer was ending, how overdrawn I was becoming at the bank, and how a kid from a broken, immigrant family, one who grew up on a rough council road far from the school he never liked could be in New York with barely a month to spare before commencing a Masters’ degree. I thought about Connecticut, her home state, and what it must be like until dreams of us travelling around the state on a ghetto connector a Greyhound bus interlaced with sleep itself after what had been a long day of discovery…

Rachel had not moved since we left New Haven. We mirrored each other’s posture and sat still until I took an interest in the serenity outside. Beyond the square windows of the bus, a painted line went by. A sign said “Welcome to-Morrow County”. Further in the distance, the shining windows of a farmhouse blazed by a creek that wove among the fields in the hills, beyond valleys sloping into an expanse of time, where day and wild orchids blew across the freeway ahead…

I briefly awoke but knew not where I was…

…a muddy greyhound ran with the bus over boundless hills, across fields and forests, to where water drew in the thirsty. Under trees sunk in mist and mud, a rush of water slammed a drowning deer into rocks where a brook broke into a river, foaming and forming around a collapsed footbridge.

I awoke once more, the room was dark still…

There, standing in a valley that the bus passed, I looked older and had a beard. It was sunset and the light was fading. I was reading aloud an excerpt from Tennyson’s Ulysses:

             ‘And this gray spirit yearning in desire

            To follow knowledge like a sinking star,

            Beyond the utmost of human thought.’

…and for the last time I awoke not quite knowing where I had gone until my eyes rolled back in my head. I was soon fast asleep.

‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.’ – Marcel Proust

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…for a week we stayed in that suburbia that more unimaginative less visionary chess players, may assume is the strongest of all –Queens

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Fischer v Petrosian 1959. Surely Bobby should have lived in Queens rather than Brooklyn after this draw? Their draw is played out below.

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A shadow of hope?

…emancipation and its disconnect with an elucidation…

Many of our most serious conflicts are conflicts within ourselves. Those who suppose their judgments are always consistent are unreflective or dogmatic.

John Rawls – Justice as Fairness: A Restatement

…through Soho we walked, itself so different to the residential beach areas I had become familiar with in L.A; decaying architecturally yet comparatively vibrant until I came into contact with people playing our beautiful game. Then everything changed. Close to a video rental store we went to was Washington Square, where chess hustlers hung out and unkempt strays gathered -some of whom not only wandered across the city to play chess, but before that, defected from afar in search of ‘The American Dream’ and only the devil knows whatever else…

So I went to New York City to be born again. It was and remains easy for most Americans to go somewhere else and start anew. I wasn’t like my parents. I didn’t have any supposedly sacred piece of land or shoals of friends to leave behind. Nowhere has the number zero been of more philosophical value than in the United States…and when the [train] plunged into a tunnel under New York City, with its lining of pipes and wires, I was out of the womb and into the birth canal.

Kurt Vonnegut -Bluebeard

George Bernard Shaw once claimed that Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language. I thought about that as we sat side by side, wanting to initiate conversation before becoming distracted by the action ahead. I failed, more curious whether that same silent, morose manner that chess is played with in England could be seen in those more competitive than magnanimous; content within cliques outside which they were ardently anti-social. In the sunlight Rachel’s glasses glinted. She looked so pretty but we barely spoke. I was preoccupied. Some players, I noted, seemed visibly bored. What were their days about I wondered, forming the opinion that everyday they play, they win but sometimes lose, they neither pocket much money nor socialize, and savour shadenfreude they don’t; they just eat, drink, take the subway home, and after another day of being downbeaten by the slithers of past success ends, they are inexorably less loquacious…


The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

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…the transgressing past travelling through NYC… 

‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.’ – Henry David Thoreau

…adjacent to that unedifying ensemble of chess-playing New Yorkers, I continued to remain distracted whilst accompanied; maturing into a competitive chess player, the person sat closest to me was always my opponent and rarely spoke after the end of game handshake I always acquiesced to. I only ever played chess out of a blind love for our beautiful game but as those years went by, the law of diminishing returns set in deep: a drawish opening repertoire lacking any real dynamism never helped as I so often lost interest and made mistakes, ending games with mad time scrambles whilst fending off blood-curdling attacks!

In musing over the memories of chess amassed, I suddenly became sombre. I remembered my worst teenage years and how during winter’s darkest nights, play became tougher because the oppressive silence chess itself demands isolated me from my team mates with a degree of discomfort that far outweighed the pleasure of playing. Matches always ended about an hour before midnight, and being a team captain I had to be the last to leave, ensuring everything was locked up. I always walked home by myself. Listening to the winter snow crunch under my boots, and watching headlights cut through the cold air, forming shadows through the trees blocking the path ahead. Sometimes, as I lay awake at night, haunted by the absence of the only person who ever loved me as a child and how she was no longer there when I needed consoling, I curled up with a sadness so eviscerating, and stared into the darkness for hours without moving a limb, not knowing why I had lost interest in my game…

To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness.

Eric Fromm

Then the person closest at that very moment, with brown eyes softening in the sunlight asked, ‘…umm do you like chess Mark?’ ‘I certainly used to and may I ask -do you?’ ‘No. I’m curious because a place called the Marshall Chess Club is only a couple of blocks away. I went there once…would you like to go with me?’ Though initially excited to do something together, something just didn’t seem right about it. ‘From what little I remember the person they named the club after was defeated more than once by a man from my home town...William something-or-other I think. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea but perhaps I am wrong.’  A minute of silence passed. ‘Hmm…and how old were you when that occurred?’ ‘Oh I wasn’t even born, it was many decades before’, ‘So he will have been forgiven by now then just as you will be I’m sure’, she said with a smile. And there I sat, thinking about chess until a morbidly obese woman announced to all that a hot-dog eating contest was to commence at a stall close by; play in the park paused as tables emptied, those in search of something more ingratiating and awfully American returned with it already half-eaten.

Obviously, I believe that to pursue the American Dream is not only futile but self-destructive because ultimately it destroys everything and everyone involved with it. By definition it must, because it nurtures everything except those things that are important: integrity, ethics, truth, our very heart and soul. Why? The reason is simple: because life is giving, not getting.

Hubert Selby Jnr.

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Marshall V Ward 6th Anglo-American cable match 1901. Marshall plays 40. Re4 not realizing that Ward can simply capture the knight on c4. After 40. … Rxc4, white is lost.

Suffuse with asynchronicity came a commiseration…

“Reason flows from the blending of rational thought and feeling. If the two functions are torn apart, thinking deteriorates into schizoid intellectual activity and feeling deteriorates into neurotic life-damaging passions.”
― Erich Fromm

Upon walking past Wall St., the path ahead became lost as I asked myself a question or two. ‘Exactly where in Manhattan did Bobby Fischer play? And did he have a redemptive idea of what chess demanded from him?’ I saw a bench and sat down, my hands holding my head as if my position had gone from winning to unclear. Why did I feel closer to who I admired in my youth instead of who I was with, wondering where he walked, what he did, unable to realize that as I grew up Fischer was only a role model, his importance conflated by a literary genre far more sycophantic than academic. Fischer was never an exemplar and nor could he have been given how he conducted himself away from the board I told myself to no avail, my love of chess unlamented still. ‘Mark. May I ask you a question?’ ‘Yes’, I said clearing my thought, ‘what is it?’ ‘You seemed happy in L.A. Why aren’t you like that here? You don’t like New York do you or is it me?’ ‘No it’s not you’, I replied. ‘And its not New York either’ She paused briefly, ‘So are you feeling okay? Are you like this with other women?’ ‘What other women? I never met a woman before…I’ve only ever liked dead chess players and dead philosophers. Apart from my grandmother, you are the only living person I have ever felt anything at all for’, I stated. ‘Hmph’ she scratched her head, ‘well I noticed your mood altered when you saw those chess players. You seemed different…encumbered by something for some reason. Hey sorry, I just wanted us to be happy’, and there we sat together but apart, both staring into the traffic, watching it pass by aimlessly, breathing in its pollution, rendering ourselves more rational than we really were…

“Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an ordination of character which determines the relatedness of the person to the world as a whole, not toward one object of love”

Erich Fromm

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Most people are not even aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinion as the result of their own thinking – and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as this of the majority.  
― The Art of Loving pg. 11 Erich Fromm

Robert James Fischer – birth-solitude-chess-solitude-death-solitude

A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.
Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms

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The United States is an illegitimate country, just like Israel. It has no right to exist. That country belongs to the Red man, the American Indian… It’s actually a shame to be a so-called American, because everybody living there is a usurper, an invader taking part in this crime, which is to rob the land, rob the country and kill all the American Indians.

Robert James Fischer

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I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
Robert Frost, West-Running Brook

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After your death, you will be what you were before your birth.
― Arthur Schopenhauer

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When I wrote songs like ‘Everyone I Love is Dead,’ I never thought about how I was going to execute them live – Pete Steele

I knew that a historian (or a journalist, or anyone telling a story) was forced to choose, out of an infinite number of facts, what to present, what to omit. And that decision inevitably would reflect, whether consciously or not, the interests of the historian.

Howard Zinn – A people’s history of the United States

The speeding train that hit an epiphany head on!

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Brooklyn’s finest…

New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous.
But there is one thing about it – once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.

John Steinbeck, American and Americans, and selected Nonfiction

In the grayish air of an uncertain afternoon, thoughts about chess dispersed and together we agreed it was time to head back. Alfred Hitchcock, once said “Happiness is a clear horizon’; through two straight sunless streets we walked, alongside its relentless, raucous traffic, we danced to that percussion from those pedestrians always pushing past until we sank into the subway station nearest, purchasing a ticket some minutes later. Then, as the train left Manhattan, we saw the setting sun spill into the East river, and over the suburbia approaching. And as that train sped on, I sat staring into the distance unaware of what was waiting at the next station…

…at Lowery St. Station, Queens, we alighted with many who rushed past. From nowhere an epiphany arrived and slammed straight into me: that to find a fuller life rather than succumb to yet more years of scholarly solitude was a well-chosen move: all the bookshops I browsed through whilst playing truant at school were now closed off, those empty aisles in the local library now shut out, chess clubs where boring old farts insisted that silence reigned supreme, hushing and shushing every utterance before blaming it on their next blunder now forsaken, those weekends wasted by county matches to remote corners of East Anglia, and tournaments held in Hertfordshire’s church halls where clocks ticked away loudly, chairs scrapped wooden floors, and resignations by so many sat in solitude broke through a leadened silence, were now all renounced…

I was sitting at home and had a profound experience. I experienced, in all of my being, that someday I was going to die, and it wouldn’t be like it had been happening, almost dying but somehow staying alive, but I would just die! And two things would happen right before I died: I would regret my entire life; I would want to live it over again. This terrified me. The thought that I would live my entire life, look at it and realize I blew it forced me to do something with my life.

Herbert Shelby Jr.

Queens…idealization…red water…

…’Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’ – Søren Kierkegaard

…in the streets that stretched over Brooklyn the sunlight faded and that chequered bedroom window above us both became softly lit. Opposed to sleep, I stared at that window no longer numb to what wasting my youth on a board game had done to me; in chess there are critical moments in every game we play, and how we prepare ourselves to handle them is often decisive, that I knew, but in life itself, I was without preparation, not even acutely aware they existed away from the board too, and that I had reached one…

…next morning, sunlight filled the room and warmed the air. ‘I’m feeling kinda flaky’ Rachel told me before she ‘stepped out‘ for coffee. Whilst she did I deciding that we should go to Colney Island, where one of my favourite films was shot, and where we could be by the beach again, now conscious that a flag began to fall as my time in NYC came to a close…

How can there be a true history when we see no man living can write truly a history of the last week?

T. Shadwell, The Squire of Alsatia 1688

…we socialized and Rachel was courteous and considerate, taking me to Colombia University, where she had graduated, then into the curling hills of Connecticut to meet her family. In a quaint village not far north of New Haven, they took us for a meal, her grandmother commentating that I looked like a member of The Beatles. I thought it best not to mention that the only band I ever liked from Liverpool is Carcass.

Carcass-2015

Carcass, a still from the single – Unfit for Human Consumption. Like so many other crap chess players, I also fit into that category…right Rachel?

…to ‘The Ale House’ in Upper-East Manhattan, to the best pizza I have ever had thereafter, and back to her apt but how I do not remember. Not sober and not sleeping, I clambered along a dark corridor back in the apartment. By the basin I peed and washed my hands below a mirror. I stared at myself in that with those same lifeless eyes my opponents always stared at me with over the board, especially whenever it was my move and his name was dreadfully Dickensian. Many minutes passed yet I still stared. I was no longer him yet not free from him I thought as I sensed his presence from within. Then, I saw him glance away, fraught with despair, knowing that I stopped playing chess, stopped studying in solitude the games of those long since dead. I wanted to put my fist straight through the mirror. That I then did, the realization that the aloneness within me was made manifest only upon reflection. I hit my reflection on the nose hard and shattered the mirror. Crashing down it came, startling Rachel. Barely a few seconds later she was there standing in the doorway scratching her head, ‘What’s happened!’ she asked looking somewhat confused. ‘The mirror broke not because I saw someone intolerable at that very moment but in the moments gone forever‘, I said with such seething anger. ‘You mean you broke my mirror deliberately?’, she asked terse with disbelief. I would not answer.

Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose and depression is the mechanism of that despair. When it comes it degrades oneself and ultimately eclipses the capacity to give or receive affection. It is the aloneness within us made manifest and it destroys not only connection to others but also the ability to be peacefully alone with oneself.

Andrew Solomon- The Noonday Demon, an Atlas of Depression

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Queens in sunlight…

… as I lay awake the blackness of evening seeped into my mind, feeling the force of an epiphany that slammed right into me. I felt guilty and restless. ‘Whilst Rachel sleeps, I ought to go out and do something. Go walk, go discover’, I told myself. And that I did. I left the apartment quietly, carefully closing the door behind me. Dressed in black I walked to Manhattan. But instead of walking towards the oblique tip of the Chrysler Building, which I could see across the river, I moved like a knight across the city grid following street signs that said where not to go, where a fuller moon was blocked by buildings, and the trees dimmed all the street-lights by Bleeker Street. 

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One way?

…I kept walking; not walking away from Queens, just walking on and on and on. Each junction became emptier and a deadened silence hung in the air, hardly what you would expect from the ‘city that never sleeps’. I found a club named CBGBs. Look lively it did, so in I went hoping I could use the bathroom where people hopping mad hung out…

“If other people do not understand our behaviour—so what? Their request that we must only do what they understand is an attempt to dictate to us. If this is being “asocial” or “irrational” in their eyes, so be it. Mostly they resent our freedom and our courage to be ourselves. We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them. How many lives have been ruined by this need to “explain,” which usually implies that the explanation be “understood,” i.e. approved. Let your deeds be judged, and from your deeds, your real intentions, but know that a free person owes an explanation only to himself—to his reason and his conscience—and to the few who may have a justified claim for explanation.”

Erich Fromm – The art of being.

…the club was rammed, the music full-blast. It was hot and sweaty. I needed a beer pronto. No one was an outsider, everyone was part of the club. Type-O-Negative, played. I moved away from the bar. I was dragged into a moshpit and lost my drink, so I returned to the bar to get another whilst we all sang along to songs about suicide. En route a stage diver landed on my head and knocked me to the floor. Worse still, the beer I had just bought was now lost again.

I had hit a critical period in my life, where I changed very much as a person. I consider the person I used to be dead and I’m glad that he is. Insecure, frightened, confused, much like a lot of people I know today.

Peter Steele

…the band took a break, to the bar I clambered. A woman dressed in black bit me on the neck then pushed me out of the way! She did that minutes later too. I was drunk by then so it mattered not. Another mosher pushed past moments later. Beer sprayed around and as I walked to the toilet someone else bonked my bonce. He got up then failed to drag me into one more moshpit: as the injuries amassed, the less I cared. I was free and that was what mattered most…

The liberation of ‘Under-promotion’… 

…somehow I found my way back before dawn broke. With no key I rang the bell. Rachel answered the door in her gown sleepily. ‘What happened?’ I had no answer. ‘Mark, I thought you were a learned man, a gentleman even but then…and now just look at you!’ she said after we sat down together on the sofa. I felt excited still rather than injured and it showed.

The greatest challenge with communication is facing the illusion that it has taken place’ D.G.Wells

‘Well, I should spend some time alone’, there followed a pregnant pause, ‘its best we both do that if you will be okay by yourself?’,  ‘Why wouldn’t I be?’ I replied. ‘Mark, just look at the state you are in. How clumsy can a person be? I thought perhaps you’d like to go and play chess in Soho or something.’ ‘Play chess? What the fuck for…oops I mean I’d much rather go to some concerts and enjoy myself…um, should I extend my flight?’ I asked. ‘You may do as you wish‘, came the reply. She returned to her room and closed the door. That was it. I left and never saw her again…

Modern man thinks he loses something – time – when he does not do things quickly. Yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains, except kill it.
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

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A decaying past -Colney Island

Colney Island – an unprepared endgame

Adversity is a great teacher, but this teacher makes us pay dearly for its instruction; and often the profit we derive, is not worth the price we paid.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

…for days I walked the streets alone, waiting for that rescheduled flight. Overdrawn at the bank by student loans, I had no money to buy a room with. I took the D-train to Colney Island and by a disused theme park I met a homeless heroin addict from Ontario, he never told me his name. Fond of company and a few dollars more for his habit, he showed me his den and how hidden from prying eyes it was. We talked and drank and talked all day long. He told me how his pursuit of the American Dream had cost him his marriage and his career as a journalist way back in the early 70s. I believed him. He spoke in a gentlemanly manner with a penetrating intellect, so I had no reason to doubt him. He would die soon if I did not help him, he said repeatedly. Although I believed that too, I could barely help myself, turning to cider whilst he turned to the needle. He was not well at all: I saw helplessness in his stare, heard sincerity in his voice, and found him to be warm-hearted but there was nothing I could do. I had nothing to give.

…I stayed close enough to the sea on the first night to feel its cold air. On the second, still drunk from the night before, I found him dead upon awakening and knew not what to do. He’d overdosed whilst I slept. That afternoon I sat on a bench staring at the sea for hours, lamenting all that was lost, fretting over flight confirmations, drowning in sorrow, struggling to hold back the tears in the sea air. The following day I stood on the beach by the water’s edge. I could go no further and there I stood all afternoon, facing the sun, untalkative and out of reach to the public passing by on the promenade…those were my last days on the east coast.

…I flew back to L.A, collected my bicycle and caught my return flight home. I did not know what else to do with myself…

Home

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
― Robert Frost

Keele University fucked about with the MA I was supposed to start, so over the phone, I told them to ‘fuck off‘ as a new chess season began. I was back playing for my club and county for the first time in a few years, welcomed back by many but none knew why I had returned to the fold. I could not tell anyone why and not because I had something to hide but because in truth I didn’t know…

…although my results improved dramatically, every game was shit: at the board I was a corpse but on I played, strangled by a sense of nothingness, the tourniquet around my neck being the beauty of chess itself…

…one winter morning, I was driven to Bedford to play for the county. It pissed it down as we passed through long acres of fallow fields where in the distance their footpaths were flooded. Uninspired, I read a poem en route:

Going – Philip Larkin

There is an evening coming in
Across the fields, one never seen before,
That lights no lamps.

Silken it seems at a distance, yet
When it is drawn up over the knees and breast
It brings no comfort.

Where has the tree gone, that locked
Earth to the sky? What is under my hands,
That I cannot feel?

What loads my hands down?

..the afternoon dragged. I sat with a winning position over the board, but bored shitless, I stared out the windows as rain pissed down them, repeatedly asking myself ‘Why am I back here again?’  We sat in a small hut opposite the hospital there. I counted the floors it had, there were six. When it was my turn to move I deliberated tactically. When it was my opponent’s turn to move I contemplated positional motives. I sat so still and stared at the hospital, where many more were resigned whilst facing death itself, and die there they did every day. I thought about leaving my won position, walking over in the rain, taking the lift to the top floor and jumping to my own death. But instead I beat my opponent with a wistful smile, then sat amongst my team mates silently as we travelled home along the roads the rain lashed down upon from an unforgiving, blackened sky…

It is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late.

Emile Cioran

…in the twelve years I took chess out of my life, that was the only anomaly. It amounted to nothing more than most of one season for my town and county, and that’s all. I returned to chess only because I loved our beautiful game, and still do as I type these very words. Back then chess was just a game I was quite good at rather than an untimely cultural phenomenon to be avoided, courtesy of the avarice of adolescence; whilst sat alone at the board for thousands of hours, I was always more focused on understanding my position over the board rather than living a fuller life away from it. But still, I returned to the fold, it was: ‘an emancipation without freedom, a freedom without the elucidation that beauty is such a terrible thing’, somehow I missed the simplicity of home and having nothing much to do…the aspirations of greatness and their refuge even though I was rubbish at chess then as I am now, somehow I missed the comfort in being sad…

Finding this post too difficult to understand?

It’s too dense right? Well piss off then Well here’s a Marcel Duchamp, who appears within, inspired montage of it and the anticipated transition ahead: and yes that refers to the thumbnail chosen, and yes Rachel there is a picture of you but not one you, perhaps, anticipate. The music is a slow-paced rock song. It is quite listenable even if you are not a fan of the genre.

…this post represents a transition. Though, unfortunately, I will always love chess, I simply cannot give it the attention I once could. Apart from the research I may undertake in the summer of 2018 -the focus of which will be the history of Bedfordshire chess only -there will be no further posts to this site. I found writing this rather exhausting, the only thing I find enjoyable is the amusing montage above, it is time to move on…

“Let us not be needlessly bitter: certain failures are sometimes fruitful … Let us salute it, then, even celebrate it: our solitude will be reinforced, affirmed. Cut off from one more channel of escape, up against ourselves at last, we are in a better position to inquire as to our functions and our limits, the futility of having a life.”

Emile Cioran

All future posts will be on the following mccreadyandmetal.wordpress.com.

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Does he to the left look like your typical chess player?

Mark. J. McCready 

 

 

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Tell me why I don’t NOT like Mondays? Ha ha, no need to since the question is rhetorical.

maxresdefaultIt’s because on Monday next week I thought I’d saunter off down to some place called London and mill about in The British Museum. There, I shall meet former Luton player Nick McBride, and together we’ll have a look at the Lewis Chessmen.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/news_and_press/statements/the_lewis_chessmen.aspx

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As a student of adversity, I’ve been stuck over the years how some people with major challenges seem to draw strength from them and I’ve heard the popular wisdom that that has to do with finding meaning and for a long time I thought the meaning was out there, some great truth waiting to be found but over time I’ve come to think that the truth is irrelevant. We call it finding meaning but we might better call it forging meaning…

Andrew Solomon

Taken from one of Manhattan’s greatest ever writers…if not the greatest, that being Andrew Solomon. The thing that distinguishes him is not just that he is so often at seminal moments in his texts and speeches unwittingly Aristotelian but rather that he is so modern, methodical and meticulous. Being an established journalist in the US and A’s top newspaper, he knows what his readers anticipate, having been drawn, collectively or otherwise, towards his literature for reasons which are both rationally informed and researched well in our modern age…I was tempted to say well-researched there but I’m neither a fan of compound adjectives nor metaphors to be honest… he is not just a man who is triumphant in the face of adversity, but surprisingly or not, also someone who has liked a complimentary tweet or two made about him by yours truly :-).

In returning to what was so long ago once ‘home’ -that being where I learnt to play chess- understanding what it once meant to be here and exactly what it means now is not easy. No longer can I consider it as home since home can no longer be ascertained geographically. If we rely upon the cliché that ‘home is where the heart is’ then home is wherever my daughter is so that I can be by her side, protect, love and educate her as every father should, then of course ascribing a location to home is thus otiose. However, life itself is perhaps more complex than chess given it is broader than our beautiful game and much more so the chess community you grew up in and have missed so dearly in more recent years, should you be overtly quixotic. Those thus tainted by the tragedy of its demise from that town you walked almost every road thereof. How do you practice when where you live is bereft of the club you spent so many evenings improving in or not improving in? It is no longer possible to find meaning within its walls, instead meaning must be forged… .

‘I am not an Athenian or a Greek. I am a citizen of the world.’

Spoken by Socrates in Plutarch’s ‘Of Banishment’.

Regarding the walls of thee old chess club I once knew so well, whilst drifting towards a draw in a league game long since significant, me and the team mate next to me had our opponents wander off together. Quietly and somewhat surreptitiously my team mate asked ‘Mark, what do you think to my position?’. I then said ‘It’s out of this world, its covered in bone, it’s out of this world, it’s covered in bone, out of this world, it’s covered in bone, out of this world, covered in bone, OUT OF THIS WWWOOORRRLLLDDDD, COVERED IN BONE AAARRGGGHHHH’. Boy did my team mate look confused, then get this, the chairman of the club came over and said ‘Oy! McCready what ya playin’ at?’ That was back when I used to listen to music during the trek across town. (Erm Mark, please don’t employ the word trek yeah. The last two of the three fatalities you somehow outplayed involve the word trek yes? Bicycle manufacturer and activity in Nepal yes?) I wonder what song such words come from?

 ‘Forging meaning and building identity does not make what was wrong right. It only makes what was wrong precious’

Andrew Solomon

God isn’t he gorgeous…oops, erm, irrespective of how badly you played or how instantly forgettable your opening repertoire once was, what you have learnt from is precious… .

‘We don’t seek the painful experiences that hue our identities but we seek our identities in the wake of painful experiences. We cannot bear a pointless torment but we can endure great pain if we believe its purposeful’ 

Andrew Solomon

It is tomorrow that I must go to Milton Keynes and it is there I must play chess to win for Luton once more…once upon a time this I once wrote about a journey across Bedfordshire.

My team mate sat next to me had not moved since we’d left Luton. We mirrored each other’s posture and sat still as he took an interest in the serenity outside. Beyond the square windows of the car, an arbitrary county line went by. Further in the distance, the shining windows of a farmhouse blazed by a creek that wove among the fields in the hills, beyond valleys sloping into an expanse of time, where day and wild orchids blew across the B-road ahead.

Me, me, me, me, me, erm ages ago… .

What a day what a day it will be. How so exciting the manner in which darkness descends will be. As chess players we gain from our game how essential it is to think ahead, so I say, the experience will outlive the result or the manner in which I win. There is supposed to be a world championship match on but for now there is no world championship match, there is only the road ahead and that which lies beyond it.

Its game on tomorrow…ghettos exist we do not profit from them…just thinking of Milton Keynes now…see below.

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From unicycle bicycle to fire-engine ambulance to grave hospital bed to hearse taxi to glider Boeing 777-300 to grim reaper ferrying me across the river styx a friend driving me from LHR to a decaying homeland the place where I grew up.

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Consciousness has been fundamentally altered by a subversive restructuring which is both oblivious and impervious to time, its motion, and how the present stands in relation to the past and the future given the antagonisms first indigenous then endogenous manifest until they dissipate, no longer contrary, concurring their co-existence is harmonious given that regrowth is both instinctual and inexorable…are you thinking what I am thinking; namely, WFT???

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However, I noticed earlier today that in two weeks’ time I must swoop down upon the chess scene I flew from and snatch victory from he who resigned when last met over the board. Exactly when was that I wonder and can I remember how well I played?

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Thoughts and internal dialogue… .

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Tell me all you remember. Okay, the game commenced in the evening under a darkened sky so that would have been when? Hmm…difficult to be sure (Note to self: check how many times in history the sky has darkened during evening in England…erm given how swollen, mashed, smashed up, almost pulverized me precious bonce still is have that double checked)…oh yeah and we played in a building somewhere. It had some walls and maybe a floor and a ceiling too.

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What was I wearing? I was wearing clothes.

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I know you were wearing clothes, what clothes were you wearing? Blue jeans, yellow shirt, yellow jumper. 

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So not beyond 92 then? Nah, the singer from Faith No More never wore yellow so there… .

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Oh you mean the one you were so impressed by you eventually got the hots for?  Er…given the disbelief that went down at home last month, it might be best that I don’t answer that.

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You were a bit obsessional back then I take it? A bit? If only that were true. In the ensemble of obsessions youth became enslaved by, it was the first thus foremost a rock when two tragedies tore all else apart. When I played my opponent to come, I was so depressed it never mattered if I won, drew or lost because nothing mattered. However I won that night because he got into time trouble and blundered.

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Did you take your opponent’s inside leg measurement as he got into time trouble in order to break his concentration? Huh?????

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Would having thee bonce sliced open then tinkered with once more help bring back every move of the 496 rated games you played before leaving chess to concentrate upon your education? Won’t that help you seeing that the present is disengaged? You what???? Are you pissed???? I suspect a refocusing upon that present, however oblique it has become to that both before and to follow carries greater significance than any moves made a quarter of a century ago given that it is my present ability that will determine the outcome…you should have learnt that before. And anyway, I already told you I won. And I won my last two games anyway?

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Yes but being brain damaged I no longer know what the present is. Won’t that affect matters?

In time you’ll intuit the past and in retrospect you’ll conclude that however gaunt the face which embodied your demise and almost destroyed body and brain is, with its presupposed transcendence vanquished for now and forever more it is indeed what a day when you can look it in the face and hold your vomit. Remember ‘Don’t you touch it’ just look it in the face and hold your vomit. Now swoop down upon your prey and make yourself proud once more.

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Lastly, you are back in what used to be your home, having been left for dead on a pavement, bleeding profusely both internally and externally you are probably quite sad, especially when those closest to you were in tears after the neurosurgeon told them you were about to die and could not be saved…so how will you feel when you play next in Bedford? Hopefully all will be fine but its strange you ask because for many years I missed the comfort in being sad, even when I was content and in complete control. Until I am myself again, I’ll probably pretend I have no commitments, revert back to how I used to be and enjoy the comfort of being sad for a few hours -just for fun!

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Aha, so that’s why your blog has changed so much of late. Okay that’s all, thanks. Glad to hear it. I still have multiple injuries and, as is usually the case, am in pain. Must attend to it. Bye.

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A finishing up, I am indeed in much pain as progress isn’t as cumulative as is hoped for. I must now close my eyes as all is going black. One day I will be free from pain, only then can I look it in the face and hold my vomit. Before then the emancipation from agony is unachievable; therefore, I dare not look it in the face nor roll over and die. I will play on, expecting my options to both disperse but broaden simultaneously, hoping the sickness unto death does not emerge… .

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‘…in the meanwhile there is a terrible cycle, the symptoms of depression cause depression; loneliness is depressing but depression also causes loneliness, if you cannot function, your life becomes as much of a mess as you supposed it was.’

Andrew Solomon –The Noonday Demon

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I wore this shirt the day my daughter was born, underneath comes the slogan ‘We Care A Lot’. Take note of the band for the purposes of the post.

UPDATES: the previous post asserts my fatal demise in some detail after I was struck at speed and smashed unconscious on the road then dragged, robbed, and left for dead. Upon regaining consciousness after an operation that surprisingly saved my life, updates have arrived: the updates form only the beginnings of this post and nothing more, it is hoped that this post will inspire you if read it from top to bottom, and more importantly, listen to the music videos attached, given how great they truly are.

‘A wet sneeze and a no left turn. A row teeth and an encouraging word. Beneath a mile of skin. I should’ve noticed it, I should’ve noticed it, I should’ve noticed it before.’

To begin, I regret to say three days ago I was once more rushed into hospital because I have severe brain damage and was prescribed Tramadol, amongst an amount of medication approximately 10 times greater than anything previously prescribed. However, I kept collapsing, losing my vision and ability to walk and was thus taken off it and instead given the most powerful painkillers ever manufactured.

‘Kill the body and the head will die. They’re laughin’ at me. I should’ve learned it. I should’ve learned it. I should’ve learned it before.’

Although I was informed that I will be killed instantly if I accidentally overdose on the painkillers, and that I am losing my hearing because an enormous hole was drilled into my brain just above my right ear, causing it damage which is both implacable and deeply depressingly, such issues paled in comparison to the announcement that I have neurological damage and may lose use of my arms if the damage to the nerves in the back of my neck does not heal…hmm, well as ridiculous as the following assertion is, none of the aforementioned matters for the simple reason that I finally felt alive once my medication was changed -I can now think. I’m back to my life. Myself again!

“The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Though the change in medication instantiated this, the song I posted at the end of the previous post rapidly became epiphenomenal. That which I once adored, cherished and was shaped by became identity-conferring, teaching me who or what I used to be.

‘When you want to ask the question… “what is man?”, all you’ve got is history.’ – Hayden White

So I rediscovered everything and became myself by returning to the music I loved so much. Of course you do know that the greatest band still around is Faith No More, who are far greater than any band in history and one million years from now will obviously be regarded as still the greatest band ever. You must surely also know that singer Mike Patton is by far the most handsome man the world has ever seen not to mention the greatest singer also. But I doubt you know in the 90s just how much I modeled myself on him, admired his obscurity and charisma so much that I fell in love with him given that he is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very different to everyone who has ever walked this earth. Even that charming and well-educated American woman from Cheshire, Connecticut whom I once had the pleasure of knowing was rather taken aback by my affection shown in the discovery of them whilst perusing a rack in one of the HMV stores in St. Albans on Oct 30th 1998 just before she went in search of those jellybeans she was so fond of. As sophisticated as her interest in music undeniably was, I drew her attention to FNM only because I liked Mike Patton so much, however, she was unpersuaded by what I felt…hmm. In retrospect, upon your first visit to such a bustling, medieval market town already a millennium pultchritudinous, and graced with historical glamour, perhaps it took centre stage better than Mr. Patton ever could, and when someone of intellectual demeanour is elated by her environment perhaps who or what is directly in front of them renders music briefly inessential given that the present is always more important than the past. Concerning the future: well, to this day those jellybeans I was introduced to just after dusk had fallen that day are still so god damn delicious as both myself and my daughter can courteously confirm, every time we see them on sale a speedy exit from the supermarket is soon made, both of us with a broad smile and a bouncing jelly-like belly. It is unlikely but should my child ever ask who fashioned the legacy of JellyBelly which she has become a part of, I may well teach her where that charming person introduced daddy to them for the first time by showing her on google earth where it took place. Should she smile -as is almost always the case- then ask if that nice person was from there too, I will tell her not and show her exactly where she came from in hope that Grace can improve her geography and smile with gratitude, to some degree feeling indebted and thankful. http://www.jellybelly.co.uk/.

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No daughter with me, so daddy gets to guzzle by himself this morning. Looking forward to Blueberry, my second favourite fruit behind Passion Fruit, which in juice form is fantastic. Any thoughts about the writing on the paper and which album it can be found upon?

Time for some chess updates

Unable to function well, I sent a short mail to two gents from the Bedfordshire Chess Association stating that a return to the fold was dependent upon my recovery, as I didn’t even know what my name was let alone play chess but having gone into overdrive after the proximity to death was suddenly under siege by a life force which heralded a smiling return to life. I opened up Lucas chess program to see if I could remember how to play chess. I knew that I had climbed up the table of engines to Chispa 4.0.3, rated 2227ELO, and lost every game against it although my Dutch Defence nearly got me a draw once.

‘Smiling with the mouth of the ocean. And I’ll wave to you with the arms of the mountain.’

So the very strange thing that occurred was that I had not played for many weeks, due to being unconscious and so very, very close to death, and was clearly unable to defeat an engine with an ELO rating above 2200, but I had the white pieces in a 10 minute game and didn’t just beat it but outplayed it the entire game and entered into an endgame where my repositioning of my minor pieces was so astute that the engine was absolutely obliterated by my perfected endgame play! In total disbelief my analysis of my play put my playing strength at something like 2400ELO! That’s great news for my home town and county…er, if I don’t drop dead en route home that is (which in my opinion is possible).

Positions from the manner in which I shot Chispa down in a blaze of glory

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White (that’s me folks) now plays 13 Re1+. Ladies and gents, I had to delete the things I thought as play unfolded because the number of expletives is shocking!

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White (once again that’s me folks) now plays 21. f3 and went on to win 27 moves later. At this stage of the game I know how to gain a one pawn advantage on the kingside, which will force the opposition in my favour some moves later and guarantee victory. And guess what, even Fritz confirmed I played the endgame perfectly!

‘I want them to know its me, its on my head.’ 

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Nasty eh? That is me my friends. I can’t put into words how intense the pains that soar across my brain and skull are. It is often the case that I lose my vision and hearing. Rest assured that whilst outside this causes problems that are unsolvable.

‘A piece of mail. A letter head. A piece of hair. From a human head.’

How did this happen on a road less traveled so late in the evening? Why was I targeted and so nearly killed? What about the road not taken, you know, the one you usually take?

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

My friends, sometimes I am so somber, having never been so very close to death (Erm Mark, I am not sure that is entirely true. Have you forgotten that in April 2008 the evening before trekking in Pokhara, Nepal commenced you were driven at full speed across the city to a clinic kilometers away, through a raging storm which took out the power everywhere, blackening the streets between the lightening bolts blinding the driver because you had e-coli, a temperature of 42.6C and were weak but writhing in agony, barely conscious? Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that almighty panic the doctors flew into before battle to keep you alive commenced? That aside, how on earth could you forget the force the rain came down upon you whilst you were carried out of the car under a grey blanket, pounding upon your closed eyes, drenching you within a second! Have you forgotten getting 5 weeks off work fully paid too?). I was a poet in my youth, please allow me to replicate what has been my favourite poem since 1994 because as I lay on my hospital bed I had a near death experience, and then as I almost swallowed my tongue during a seizure, blood poured out of my mouth during a spasm, thereafter, as I lay oh-so nearly dead, my past began fading as if I was about to enter sleep and never awaken, which I have learnt is exactly how death feels like as I had another 5 seizures that day, although thankfully after the second one I could no longer retain consciousness…I do hope you read it. It is so heart-felt, well written, and well structured -it really is. The fact that he was a soldier in WW1 where he lost his life, should give you an idea about the title.

Lights Out – Edward Thomas
I have come to the borders of sleep,
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight,
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose.
Many a road and track
That, since the dawn’s first crack,
Up to the forest brink,
Deceived the travellers,
Suddenly now blurs,
And in they sink.
Here love ends,
Despair, ambition ends;
All pleasure and all trouble,
Although most sweet or bitter,
Here ends in sleep that is sweeter
Than tasks most noble.
There is not any book
Or face of dearest look
That I would not turn from now
To go into the unknown
I must enter, and leave, alone,
I know not how.
The tall forest towers;
Its cloudy foliage lowers
Ahead, shelf above shelf;
Its silence I hear and obey
That I may lose my way
And myself.

Isn’t that so poignant and truly touching? And it is time we upped the tempo isn’t it? So it is, so listen to what’s below but be so careful, the last 17 seconds are out of this world! It’s live but man-o-man do they really go for it! It’s definitely Faith No More so very close to being at their very best. Please listen to from start to finish because as always Mike is so very strange but inspirational. The chorus is phenomenal, have a sing -a-long and start bouncing up and down why don’t you? The chorus is as follows, ‘What a day, what a day if you can look it in the face and hold your vomit! Ever seen that before anywhere? I suspect you might have 🙂

Okay, so am I right to suspect you love me now and worship the path I walk along with such an unfurled daydreamy existence or am I wrong? In any event, now watch what’s next. In this video Mike Patton is so handsome it is impossible not to fall head over heals in love with him irrespective of your gender and sexual orientation. In addition, the track is so wonderful you will drool for days on end, thereafter you’ll spend the rest of your life wishing you were as handsome as Mike, like I have done, and of course, everyone who has watched his suave and charismatic performance go way beyond anything ever recorded.

Although I am at present alive, I will possibly drop dead later this week even though the antithesis between life and death is much less pronounced than the week before, and at times, seemingly fallacious…so many people have told me I am the greatest and most loving father they have ever seen, so I will battle on and outplay the grimreaper or will I? Of course I will… .

‘Give the same to me then I’ll be closer, closer. Give the same to me then I’ll be closer, closer.’

…I don’t quite know who I am at present but I do want to tell you that a principle reason underlying my survival and recovery is that before the accident that so nearly killed me I was much fitter than I have ever been in my entire life. This year so far: cycling approximately 7000 km (across countries into others even!), running approximately 900 km. My body is still incredibly muscular despite being unable to function for more than a few hours each day for weeks now. The last cycle trip I took to the temples north of the city I live in, I did in two hours even though I cycled around 65-70km. I felt disappointed at the end because it was so easy and effortless….so keep fit and keep your brain active as my lifelong commitment towards study has improved my speed of recovery so I have been told…so once again should I die then all the best with your life…would you mind if I made the effort to make you even happier?

(Drum roll please) The top three vids are as follows!

First, Caffeine 

‘Believe anything anyone ever tells you. It’s not funny any more. It’s thing you hate the most. The thing you hate the most. The thing you hate ALMOST.’

Mike is menacing in his vocals and almost psychotic at times whilst in character only. It’s still my favourite song because the video shows Mike at his greatest ever.

Second, Everything’s Ruined

‘A shiny copper penny.’

I got my daughter dancing to this early this morning, and she found the video really funny! We had a little dance together but not the whole song.

Third, Ricochet

‘One day a wind will come up, and you’ll come up empty again, and who’ll be laughing then, you’ll come up empty again.’

My friends, in early May 95 I was so far adrift from the world around me, still 22 months away from the end of an eight year period of depression, which liberating myself from entirely has become a life-long battle, which has long since been lost. In that month I had Ricochet and the rest of that album on my Walkman in cassette form. In the evenings I used to cycle into Hertfordshire, just like I did when I was a child. One evening, at the junction pictured below.

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Slip End, a frontier of Bedfordshire

I stopped by the roadside and stared down the road into Pepperstock, see below.

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Pepperstock, a hidden entrance to Hertfordshire

I was on my old black BSA Racer, which I dashed across my county oh-so-often, and so I stopped, staring towards Pepperstock, listening to Ricochet in the dark, the wind, and light rain, staring into the headlights of oncoming traffic with glazed eyes for hours because beyond the music nothing else mattered -so depressed was I. Though it rained I did not do up my jacket. Feeling the rain fall on me was necessary because my being could absorb elements of the countryside into it -which was life-affirming and thus an avenue out of depression. The smell of grass and trees that carried in the wind from the winding country lanes, unlit thus pitch black entranced me into adoration also. So there I sat on my saddle for hours, my eyes always glazed but my persona enraptured by Ricochet. I was well and truly alone, no one mattered no longer, only nature, its elements, then their absorption into my being did… .

‘Do you have something to tell me? Say something. Anything.’

Farewell and good luck my privileged friends, and once again, should I die this weekend, which I fear is possible, good luck in life…but just before I die, I want to say if you search for then read the post Malpractice which I adore far more than any other I wrote, you might notice that the influence of Faith No More is stupendous, and in fact, more prevalent in this site than anything else. This is my way of bringing my blog to a close because I fear death is approaching at pace… .

‘What remains unclear is when depression triggers life events and when life events trigger depression. Syndrome and symptom blur together and cause each other; bad marriages cause bad life events, cause depression causes bad attachments which are bad marriages. According to studies done in Pittsburg, the first episode of major depression is usually closely tied to life events, the second somewhat less, and by the fourth and fifth episodes life events seem to play no part at all. [George] Brown agrees that beyond a certain point depression takes off on its own steam and becomes random and endogenous, dissociated from life events.’

Andrew Solomon – The Noonday Demon.

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The menace within Mike’s vocals is unparalleled and can never be surpassed, nor can the collective brilliance of the album -it simply isn’t possible.

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