An Alphabet Of My Life: J


There are times in my life when I have been jealous, I admit that.

After my first marriage broke down, I was jealous of the fact that my wife got to remain in the nice house in Wimbledon, that eventually netted her a small fortune when she sold it decades later.

I have sometimes been jealous about younger girlfriends. That was based on my own insecurities about age difference, and believing that they would be attracted to younger men if they went anywhere without me. I suppose that can be considered natural, but it affected at least two relationships, teaching me that jealousy can be destructive and pointless.

On the plus side, I have never been jealous about rich people, or possessions. If someone had a better car than me, or a lot more money, I often thought that they had much more to lose, and would ultimately be less happy than I was.

I was jealous of talent.

Unable to play an instrument, or publish a best-selling book, I felt jealousy when confronted with the likes of David Bowie, or Charles Dickens. What did they have, that I lacked? It took me a long time to discover that I lacked perseverance, determination, and not least talent in those fields.

Luckily, I was never once jealous of privilege, the scourge of British society. They could keep their stately homes, those aristocratic benefits, their private education, their silver spoons and inheritances. It never seemed to make them better people, and certainly did not make them nicer or happier people.

I grew older, and became less and less jealous in time.

Wives had to have their free time with friends, so why be jealous of that? If I trusted them, respected them, married them, then that should be enough to make me happy about what they did when I was not around.

Undeniably, everyone is jealous about something, at some time in their lives. If they deny that, I am sorry to say that they are lying.

But live long enough, and you will be content to discover that jealousy is simply wasted energy.

Then you can relax.

I’ll See You Down The Road

Once again, Cheryl Oreglia touches my heart with her fantastic writing. Another must-read blog post that we can all identify with.

Living in the Gap

The view from my bed…

“Mother is a word we use for an angel with wings of love.” Apollo M


After watching an arresting movie last night, Nomadland, which left me feeling hollow and hallowed, I laid down with these intimate notions who spooned me as I dreamt, they were still with me in the early morning when the dew was fresh, and the light sublime.

Hollow and hallowed are strange bedfellows but as I see it people can both struggle and remain upbeat simultaneously, “through even the most soul-testing of challenges,” says Jessica Bruder.

I’ve spent time with these emotions, especially after the death of my parents, I was completely wrecked, but somehow comforted by a community who rallied around me as if numbers on a clock, reminding me minute by minute that I am not alone, that I am loved, that I can allow joy to…

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Age and emotions

I found this post from my early days of blogging, back in 2012. It has had very few views, and just one comment. It was interesting for me to read it again, and to reflect on how I felt at the time.
Seven years later, much of it is still relevant.
Some of it even more so.


What is it about age and emotion? It seems to be on a sliding scale; as you get older, you become emotionally labile. Some days, I feel consumed by nostalgia, reverie, and reflection. Old films make me feel blue, and I can experience waves of sadness washing over me, for no apparent reason. I constantly look back over my life, re-evaluating past deeds, and regretting not doing others.

This is all a very new thing. Ten years ago, I got through the day, had a bottle of wine, and considered myself lucky to still be here.  There was no time in my life for regrets, and self-criticism; I would have considered it a luxury that I could not afford to indulge in. Analysing things in the past can be very self-destructive, and is generally not to be recommended. Wallowing in  nostalgia is usually unproductive, at the best of times.


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There are many things that separate humans from animals, even our closest relatives, the great apes. I have always considered that the most important one of these is hope.

Animals don’t hope. They tolerate, they expect, and sometimes they suffer in silence. But they don’t hope, despite what we might like to think.

For us, hope comes in many ways, at very different levels. We can have everyday hopes. We might hope to win the lottery, or hope that a planned trip can be done in good weather. Some might hope that they will get a phone call from a friend or relative today, whilst others simply hope to have the strength to get out of bed and face the day ahead.

But most of our hoping is very serious. Hope for good health, and long life. Hope to enjoy the benefits of retirement, and hope for the same for those near and dear to us. There is hope that medical treatment will work; alleviating suffering, or prolonging life. Hoping that fertility treatment will bring the child that is desired, or that the morning after pill stops that same thing happening.

In the modern world of social media, some hope for popularity, a notion of success based on contacts or likes. We hope that people find us attractive, amusing, and want to be close to us. And most people hope to find love. Not just any love, but true love, everlasting, fairy-tale love. And if that goes wrong, hope gets us through, and allows us to continue to hope that it will eventually be found.

Parents hope for better lives for their children. They hope that the future will bring happiness to their offspring, and make it all worthwhile. Then those children in turn hope to do well in exams, find a good job, and continue the cycle of humanity.

Many people hope for others. They hope that society will evolve to be fairer, and allow the same opportunities for all. They hope to see disease eradicated, animal extiction stopped, and climate change reversed. They spend their lives hoping selflessly, asking nothing for themselves.

Everyone hopes. Wherever they live, whatever language they speak, however rich or poor their condition in life, they hope. Billionaires hope for more billions, and people living on the streets hope for something to eat, and a dry place to sleep. Artists hope for recognition, writers hope for publication. Teachers hope that their students will learn something, and soldiers hope that it won’t be them who is killed or wounded.

Religious people hope that the afterlife they believe in will actually happen, and atheists secretly hope that too.

Hope is constant. Every day, even when we are not aware of it, we hope. The word itself has become so common, it is easy to see why its importance may have become trivialised. We all say things like “Hope you have a nice time”, “Hope the traffic isn’t too bad on your way home”, or “Hope to see you again soon”. But that is just a word, and not real ‘Hope’.

Hope might well be the one thing that keeps us going in adversity. Hope stops us walking away, living our lives under clouds of depression, and allows us to carry on with the mundane, with the prospect of something better on the horizon. Hope keeps us balanced, and in some cases, keeps us sane.

Without hope, there is only reality.

Let’s all keep hoping.

Thinking Aloud on A Sunday


I woke up thinking about happiness. That might be because I wasn’t feeling particularly happy today.

But it made me contemplate what happiness means. From a very young age, we learn about being happy, and making others happy. Do this or that, and it will make Mum or Dad happy. Receive some nice presents for a birthday or Christmas, and you will be asked if they make you happy. In everyday conversation, the concept of being happy turns up more often than you might think.

“Happy to see you”. “Are you happy with the service today?” “Are you happy with your main course?” “Ollie looks happy today”. “Happy with that?” “Does that price make you happy?” “Are you happy in that new job?” “I see you have changed the car. Happy with the new one?” And so on. The reverse applies of course. “They charged too much, I wasn’t happy with that dealer”. “I waited in for that parcel that didn’t arrive. I wasn’t happy, I can tell you”. If you counted up how many times you used the word in a week, I am sure it would surprise you.

Once you are old enough to aspire to something, the idea of happiness takes hold. You begin to perceive that something will make you happy. Despite being cared for by your parents, and wanting for nothing outside of your experience that far, you start to imagine being happier, all the time. You enjoyed the sweets you had just eaten, but a second bag will make you happier, you are sure of that. The new toy you got was great to play with, but the option of an additional toy would make you really happy. As you grow, it never stops. You will be happy when you’re older, and able to do things bigger children are allowed to do. The end of the school term will make you happy, as you will be on holiday for a while. But then going back to school will make you happier, because you are missing your friends.

Having your own car will make you feel grown up, and give you freedom of movement. That will make you very happy. But that car comes with its own problems. Breakdowns, flat tyres, and having to buy petrol. So, not that happy after all. Having that nice girlfriend, and getting married. You know that will make you happier than you have ever been. But you have to learn how to live with someone else, change some habits, and worry about things like unwanted relatives, and bills. So, that didn’t work out as happy as you had expected it to. Have children then, that will guarantee life fulfillment, and real happiness. I chose not to, expecting that to make me happy. One thing I will never know the answer to.

A worthwhile career must surely make you happy? Trouble is, when all’s said and done, a job’s a job, worthwhile or not. You have to go to work at times when you don’t want to, and do things you would prefer not to. So maybe that career isn’t the source of happiness after all.

Happiness is far from tangible. We are conditioned to expect it from an early age, and strive to find it, whatever that takes. But the absence of happiness is very different to real unhappiness, you learn that too. At times, it can be found in small things. The wag of a dog’s tail when you come home. Blue Tits feeding chicks in a nest box. But it is fragile, and that feeling you think is happiness can be easily shattered by one harsh word, or thoughtless gesture. Like Inner Peace, it is something we all seek, though not necessarily in the same way, at the same time. It is a word we are all very familiar with, but a sensation that is all too fleeting at the same time.

What about you? Happy?

Significant Songs (40)

I Get So Lonely

Between 1997-2000, I was in the middle of an upheaval in my life. I had separated from my second wife, and moved across London, to the west. I was renting an unattractive flat, in an unfamiliar area, often questioning my own actions, and wondering what was going to become of me, at the age of 45. After a warm summer, mostly spent in the large garden of the flat, drinking wine and listening to music, autumn arrived, bringing darker evenings, and quieter streets. I was less enamoured with my move by then, and I was spending far too much time on my own.

Because of the success of her brother Michael, Janet Jackson has spent much of her life in his shadow. I had always preferred her voice, and although she frequently emulated his style, I thought that there was enough about her to appreciate for its own sake. Around the same time, she had been going through an emotional and psychological breakdown. Coming out the other side, she released a new album of songs, and called it ‘The Velvet Rope’. I heard a few tracks on the radio, and bought a copy soon after. It contained a strange mix of pop tunes, dance music, and some songs with darker lyrics.

One track seemed to sum up my own mood at the time. It showcased Janet’s voice and style perfectly, yet had an overwhelming sadness to it, that I could easily identify with. I played it often, occasionally buying into the sadness it contained; and later, when times were good, remembering how I had once felt when I listened to it. If you have ever been very low in your life, feeling that you had perhaps chosen the wrong path, I am sure you will be able to immediately identify with the emotions in this song. Seventeen years after I first heard it, it still packs the same punch for me today.

Here are two versions of the song. One is a production number, the second a simple live rendition. You choose…