Brae: first impressions

Maybe it’s only wishful thinking: after all, what seems like ages ago I’d spent my best and most formative days here. Nevertheless, ever since coming back in January it seemed to me this city was perceptibly closer in character to Glasgow than the one where I’d spent most of the intermediate years had been. The architecture, the way people look and behave, even the weather . . . On my second Sunday here I had a stroll around the city centre and later noted down in my diary that “it can never be Glasgow or the Brae of old but I can relearn to like this city like I never liked Budweis”.

 

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Dram again

The rehab had always been meant for only a few months, and so had been the protected housing, but I’d intended to leave the latter for somewhere where I would spend several, possibly many, years.

Well, I failed. The digs I moved in have their disadvantages like everywhere, but generally they are better than most I had had in this country – except that there seems to be no provider ready to connect me to the Net. Sure, there is the place’s own public Wi-Fi, but typically for such, it’s slow and unreliable. Which turned this into yet another stopgap accommodation.

Meaning I decided to minimise my contacts with just about everybody, so that I can catch up on my various backlogs, mushroomed during the rehab and protected housing days, even with the connection I do have. And that these are going to be days of frugality, because I’ll have to save up for moving house once again.

But not tonight. Tonight I’m having my first dram after over six months, enjoying that after all I’m at long last living alone, and with enough spare time for myself.

 

Desk & chair

(Initially noted down at my Logbook entry for the day, having spent 3 afternoons assemblying a JYSK chair & desk for the digs; posted here, minimally edited, 20/4/18.)

The only really important thing left now is to get a proper internet connexion, all the other ideas I have (like buying laptop speakers, tea lights & tealight candle holder and bathroom scales tomorrow) are just nice but not really necessary improvements. Also I hope I’ll finally have the time to start eating more, rather than actually neglecting my after-work meals as I have been doing these last three days.
 

Postscript, 20/4/18: And I remember half-promising myself never again to buy any flatpack furniture to assemble if I could avoid it. I’d done it so many times already . . .

 

Blogging in hand

The following grumblings were initially scribbled at the ends of my – then temporarily handwritten – diary entries towards the end of my stay in a ‘protected housing’ before moving to digs rented on my own. Posted here, minimally edited, 14/4/18.

Thu, 25/1/18
It occurs to me that except for looking up digs on a smartphone being probably one hell of a bother I wouldn’t really care if I couldn’t use this laptop again – here and even ever. I’d have a pretext to buy another Asus again to have a new start with once I live on my own once mair. And of course I’m rather pleased with being about to start a job again, and one like that as well – printing house, reasonable income, later on shift work … I think as soon as I feel at least a little established there I’ll begin hunting the digs. The guys here are friendly and not really daft but there’s no enough privacy for even a five-minute meditation/zazen session and the TV at night is a real bugger.

Sat, 27/1/18
I don’t know whether I’m gonnae be able to wake up (& get up) in time for work on Monday, I’m not even completely certain I’m gonnae be able to get through an 8-hr shift, or 5 of them, let alone whether I’ll get along with the people there and manage to learn something I was finding rather difficult in Koh-i-noor. (Fucking glue …) What I do know is I’m gonnae begin to look in earnest for some digs whether I keep the job or not. I don’t plan to finish this ‘after-cure’, I’m convinced it’s doing me more harm than good, what with the fucking TV all day long and beyond midnight, hardly any time/opportunity for a quiet time to think, time restrictions adversely affecting my earning opportunities, too many people sharing the facilities (shower/washing machine/loos/smoking area), and of course, as important as the TV, basically no Net connexion worth the name when it comes to the laptop. At least the phone is fine Net-wise, and the rent is low, mais je ne vie pas, je vivote ici. Basically I put life on hold; I’m just going through the movements and I wait for a chance to get out and start living again after. In the meantime I’m mostly reading.
Odd, come to think of it. After a few months I’ve finally something to look forward to again. Ay, having a quiet time for myself now and then, and working on the ever-growing Net backlog.

Tue, 30/1/18
I’m really determined to start calling digs agents on Friday, I want to get the fuck out of here asa fucking p. (Till then of course I mean to play the game, not telling oniebody until I’ve landed some digs and am about to actually flit.)

Wed, 31/1/18
Incidentally another reason to leave here quick is the programme’s a waste of time as far as I’m concerned while often leaving me with little spare time to do even Anki [word drill] & proper news’ reading.

Sun, 4/2/18
In the morning, returning from the Heršpická St, it occurred to me that there was little significant difference between my life now (since say December) & the two cancer-days alcoholic relapses – ay, instead of boozing I’m going to work, but mostly I’m just killing time until somehow I’m able to start living once again.

Mon, 5/2/18
Dinna want tae jinx it but it seems fae Friday I mecht begin living again. Their Wi-Fi mecht be a joke as well but I’d be allowed to have a provider put in a cable if it proves so, and after several months I’d be living on my own again. Dinnae mean tae tell anybody yet till A get a promised email but heck, it does look like this hibernating period should finally come to an end. Cannae wait to start working on my massive backlog, daeing the languages properly again, and maybe even hae an access to iPlayer once more (& BBC news on my laptop, rather than on the smartphone only). Ay, cannae wait. Hae sth to look forward to again.

Tue, 6/2/18
Apparently it’s obvious how glad I am to flit, [the housing’s manager] even mentioned it (but took it fairly well). I’m slightly anxious about walking the distance with all my belongings and having to pay the initial amount in cash thus having over 25K around me for some time but heck, I’ll cope somehow; 3 more nights here, 3 more shifts in the printing house, the move & then the weekend begins – and life recommences.

Wed, 7/2/18
Basically only had time to bookmark news but I no longer give a toss, I’m beginning to work on my backlog(s) on Saturday.

 

Svenska a-rithist

(Initially written 20/1/18 in an .rtf file on account of unreliable internet connexion, posted here 14/4/18.)

Leis an fhìrinn innse, chan eil an t-àite seo, an suidheachadh seo, a’ còrdadh rium gu math. Seadh, ‘it’s a roof’, agus chan eil e daor. Ach bithidh an telebhisean an-còmhnaidh air dar a bhios fear dhen chòignear còmhla ris a tha mi a’ fuireach a-staigh; bith faraman eile ann gu tric is minig; tha an t-adhar salach a’ bhaile eadhon nas miosa leis gu bheil sinn uile nar smocairean (agus nar smocadh san taigh-beag nach eil beag ach bìdeach); le righailtean na buidhinn, chan urrainn dhomh ach obair le sioftan na maidne a shireadh, agus mar sin air adhart.

Agus tha an eadar-lìn, an Wi-Fi, dìreach truagh. Tha e cho uabhraidh (cha luchdaich e a-nuas bbc.com air a’ choimpiutair-uchd agam, gun luaidh air bbc.co.uk no cuid sam bith le .fr aig an deireadh, agus dàrna leth na h-ùine cha luchdaidh e a-nuas làrach sam bith) gun do chuir mi romham gun cleachdainn an coimpiutair-uchd an ìre mhath dìreach airson sireadh na h-obrach agus airson obrach às loidhne. Gun sgrìobhainn dè bu mhath leam a dhèanamh dha faidhle teacsa agus gun nì mi na h-uile, ceum air ceum, dar a bhios mi a’ fuireach mar a b’ àbhaist dhomh: nam aonar, le ceangal eadar-lìn math.

Ach mar sin, on nach eil fastadh agam fhathast, agus gun urrainn a’ mhòr-chuid dhe na rudan a bu mhath leam a dhèanamh a dhèanamh, bha cus saor-ùine agam. Bha agam cur-seachad eile a lorg. Mar sin, cho-dhùin mi aig a’ cheann thall gun b’ e an t-Suainis, seach an Nirribhis, a thòisichinn air ionnsachadh – agus thòsich mi an-diugh. (A’ cleachdadh Duolingo, mar an do rinn mi leis an Fhraingis.)

Bha mi caran fo sprochd o chionn ghoirid, ach as dèidh a’ chiad dhà leasain, dh’fhairich mi dìorras às ùr.

 

Yule ’17

Not so bad in the end. A third of the guys went on Christmas leaves, and – despite subbing for the current chairman – seldom did I have to come in contact with those who stayed except at meals, in the morning and at night doing the fatigue duties, and occasionally when smoking. Mostly I was all on my own in my room, doing my languages, watching iPlayer and reading.

 

Backlog: chairmanship over

In mid-November I finally asked the therapists to be rid of the chairmanship and they agreed. (One of my arguments was that more than a half of my then co-patients had arrived at the ward when I had already been at the post, in other words they hadn’t voted me in.) It took another week until the actual vote of the new chairman took place, during which time I incidentally became the most senior patient of the ward, and yet another to hand the post over – funnily, all the three groups changed their leaders in the same week – but at long last I was a rank-and-file member again.

I was somewhat surprised at the amount of praise I got from the guys, both informally and formally, for my ‘time in office’. No false modesty: I did think I was a good chairman; even so it was nice to find out that the others mostly perceived me as a good one as well. One or two even mentioned I had been fair and just, which pleased me the most, because being that had been the hardest thing about the job. All the same it was a relief to no longer have to be alert 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, to be only responsible for oneself.

 

Backlog: protected housing interview

Unless something quite unexpected happens, the near future is all set up. A month ago I went to the city I’d studied in all those years ago for an interview with the ‘protected housing’ people and it went fine on many accounts. First, in the train there I listened to Hats Off to the Buskers after years, which was rather uplifting. Second, before the meeting I met one of my best friends, who stays in the city. Third, the interview was successful (by the end of the week they confirmed I was on). Fourth, in the train back I listened to Peace and Love after years, which I enjoyed as well. And last but not least, I then visited (in the city I had lived in before the cure) another of my best friends, who afterwards drove me back to the rehab.

I was up for some good times and some bad times, but the very day was an unequivocal success. And the prospects were good too: I would leave the city I learned to hate and get closer to my old mates from college, having a roof and apparently almost a certainty of finding some decent job.

 

Fuar

Diluain, 30 Dàmhair, chuir iad dheth teasachadh agus uisge theth. Seadh, thug iad dà theasadaire so-ghiùlan dha na daoine air an dàrna làraich, no garrad, Dimàirt; ach cha tug iad fear sam bith dhuinne air a’ chiad làraich gus Diardaoin. Cha robh àite agam airson faighinn na bu bhlàithe gu sealach fad beagan làithean, agus bha mi a’ faireachdainn nach robh mo chorp a-mhàin, ach eadhon m’ eanchainn a bha a’ sìor fhàs na bu shlaodaiche is na bu raige.

 

Chairmanship

More than a month ago I complained that I had little time for blogging. Since than I’ve had even less, to some extent paradoxically just because there was a lot happening which would be worth blogging about.

At the beginning of October I was elected the ‘community chairman’, so instead of the few duties I’d had as a ‘group confidant’ I now have quite a few. So many in fact that I no longer undergo occupational therapy; which is hardly any gain, as that’s one of the best parts of the cure.

On the other hand, I’ve been a chairman for long enough by now to know most of the ropes. And there are other good aspects to the post. For instance, when a 1-bed room became vacant, I was allowed to move there. No longer having to adjust my spare-time activities to any roommates’ presence is a mighty help. As regards spare time, I’ve been recently probably actually somewhat better off than what I’d been six weeks ago.

It’s a shame though that I’ve practically lost this autumn. While the trees’ colours were at their best, the park was either closed due to high winds, or instead of being there during occupational therapy or during my spare time I was mostly doing some paperwork and the like.

 

No blogging time

It’s not that I lack stuff to blog about. I could, even would like to, blog about playing table tennis again (and still not all that badly); about co-winning the ward’s chess competition; about the two guys I fancied who’d already left [AS&RM] (especially the latter one, who I think I was in rapport with, however little time we had to talk together); about my first two roommates [KH&MC] who’ve been both discharged quite recently and who were very good roommates (especially the latter one, with whom I could converse in English and French, not to mention Slavic languages); about the porter duty, whose ‘other shift’ was being covered by a guy I fancy immensely [Anndra, or OZ]; about getting a new roommate before having time to really enjoy being alone in the room for a while …

Time. That’s exactly the problem. Every workday is partitioned by various ‘duties’ to such an extent that it’s often hard to find time for doing my languages quotas, let alone turning on the laptop. Sundays are only slightly better; Saturdays are fine in this respect, but then so they are for the others, many of whom aparently spent these by just watching TV (turned on quite loud) in the hallway, so it’s hard to concentrate on any mental activity. (In fact I’m not sure Saturdays aren’t more exhaustive than workdays.) And of course, using a laptop after the lights-out is virtually impossible.

I’m afraid the backlog of things I can’t do until I’m ‘properly online’ again will have mushroomed so much within these five months it’ll take several months more to catch up.

 

About to leave – part 2

Three more nights. Monday being the last day of my internet subscription, I’ll have to temporarily cover most of my online activities (smartphone is just a meagre substitute for internet access as far as I’m concerned); on Tuesday I’m going to pack my possessions and so on; and on Wednesday I’ll hand over the flat and leave for the rehab.

Leaving this town, hopefully, for good. There are places you love the more the longer you stay there (the city where I went to college or Glasgow), and those you hate the more the longer you are stuck there (the town where I was born or this one). Of course, there’s no way I’ll be able to return to Scotland, but at least getting closer to my ex-college-mates would be fine.

 

And yet it wasn’t all bad

What I said last night holds, but it’s quite possible that years from now I’ll reminisce about these last few months a little wistfully. That I’ll mostly remember all those iPlayer documentaries I saw while having my meals . . .
 

I even have new favourite presenters, Dougie Vipond and Neil Oliver having been joined by Chris Packham, Dan Cruickshank, James Fox . . .

 

About to leave

So, on Wednesday to the rehab. And then hopefully to some other town, as I’ve learned to hate this one. Anyway, I’m certainly not returning to this gaff, which I never liked in the first place. Because of …

A floating floor and no carpet in the bedsit. No door between the antechamber and the bedsit, making old women blethering on the staircase all too audible. A washbasin so tiny one can’t even wash a pair of socks in it. Bathroom walls so dark it’s hard to see one’s face properly when shaving. A microwave oven and an electric cooker but no fridge. And so on.

But most of all the sod staying above me, stamping like a hippo from wall to wall and back again, quite often for a few hours in a row. God knows what the arseheid is doing that for. Even worse than the bitch in Wester Common. It’s been years since I last went – sober – to my bed with a pleasant expectation of a restful sleep. I go to sleep anxious that noise will not let me fall asleep, and certain it would wake me up.

So in a sense I can’t wait to leave here. Who knows, perhaps I’ll yet get a chance to relearn going to sleep without this anxiety. While there’s life there’s hope.

 

Làithean beagan trang a-rithist

Dimàirt, b’ e an t-uachdaran agus am fiaclaire; an-dè, an oifis airson tèarainteachd shòisealta. Ach, gu neo-chumanta, tha mi beagan ro làimh, seach air dheireadh, ron cheann-ama a tha ann an Diciadain an ath sheachdain; bha fiù agus àm gu leòr agam a’ tilleadh bhon oifis ri dhol ann an taigh-òsta agus biadh sònraichte a’ cheàrna seo a ghabhail. Ma bhios mi soirbheachail, cha bi teans agam a ghabhail a-rithist.

 

Packing rehearsal

The flitting day is nearing; the day before yesterday I eventually tried and found out which of my possessions I’d be able to cram into the rucksack and laptop case and which I’d have to discard.

The result was satisfactory: as expected, I’ll have to throw away all my books but Monte Walsh, including Colin Mark’s Gaelic-English dictionary (which is why I’d bought the Kindle version), as well as my winter jacket, but somewhat unexpectedly I’ll be able to keep my fleece, and my diaries can be distributed so that the rucksack presumably won’t break like my old one did two years ago.

Maybe one day I’ll reach the ideal of only having as much as can be carried in a rucksack alone.

 

170712: Busy, busy day

Incidentally the twenty-second anniversary of the last time I had sex, but that’s irrelevant: what made it busy was all related to the near future, rather than to distant past. First the landlord came for the rent and I had to disclose to him I was about to leave soon: he took it surprisingly equanimously. Then I went out myself to the office of my internet provider: although it took some time, I finally did make the lady behind the counter fill in the contract termination form. After which I visited the local branch of the state department responsible for pensions and mined them for information about the possibility of getting some income on account of the consequences of the cancer and the cure: I even got the necessary forms, even though in the end we concluded it would be better to apply after my rehab stint.

It’s been like this for some time: days or weeks of having no appointments alternating with days or weeks of having several. But I was quite satisfied at the end of this one, because I did follow all the negotiations through without bottling out of anything. Rather unusual for me to be honest.

 

Eòlach air cinn-là

Bha mi airson gam fònadh leam fhìn, ach mus do dhùisg mi, sheirm boireannach air choireigin bhon ospadal leighis-inntinn mi, agus dh’aontaich sinn gun tig mi ann air an dàrna latha dhen Lùnastal.

Sgoinneil. Mu dheireadh thall, tha fios agam dè an uimhir ama a tha agam gus an latha dar a dh’fhàgas mi am baile mosach seo, an dùil nach biodh agam ri tilleadh a-riamh. Thòisich mi cha mhòr sa bhad air cnuasachadh air dè as fheudar – agus as urrainn – dhomh a dhèanamh tron àm.

(Thuirt i cuideachd gum bi mi ann mu mhìos: bha mi ’n dòchas gum biodh sin na b’ fhaide ach ’s dòcha gum bi aon mhìos gu leòr. Bu chòir dha a bhith nas saoire mar an ceudna.)

 

Bookmarks: stuck

This is becoming ridiculous. Every day I stop ‘following’ another website or two, every night I tell myself the next day would be primarily dedicated to cutting down the number of ‘to-read’ article bookmarks, yet the following night I find out there were so many new ones the number is only slightly lower than the night before, if it’s not in fact even higher. If this was my first year on the internet I could put it down to beginner’s infatuation with it, but I have recently begun my tenth …

 

Rosemary

Occasionally I treat myself to some moderate profligacy. Having read an article about rosemary smell possibly enhancing memory, I bought a bottle of essential oil, and an aromatherapy candle holder or diffuser or whatever it’s properly called. Despite the fact that normally I would snort over a research carried on only 40 participants.

(I did snort when I later learnt I was one of a crowd. The mitigating factor is that one of the reasons I succumbed to the whim was the fact that rosemary is mentioned in the title of one of my favourite Simon & Garfunkel albums.)

I burn a candle under the oil bath daily, usually when working on my languages’ vocabularies and/or when meditating. Sure, I’ve no idea whether it actually has any effect, there are too many other variables. But the smell is pleasant, and I’ve always had a soft spot for candles anyway; somehow this makes burning one even more gratifying.