David's diary: April 1997
Well it's now a day until I return to Milton Keynes, and I can't say I'm exactly overjoyed at the prospect for a number of reasons, not least of which is the lack of space in the flat, making it increasingly hard for us all to get on as harmoniously as we would like. I think I shall start making a concerted effort to find someplace else to live as a matter of priority. I am fully paid-up until the end of April, so will perhaps aim to be renting elsewhere as from the start of May, and then maybe use that as a base to start looking for somewhere more permanent, by which time I should hopefully also have a better idea of where I stand relationship-wise and so on, which would have a big bearing on such matters.
Having said all that, I am looking forward to getting away from here. I expect it wouldn't raise too many eyebrows if I suggested that parents are great, but not for long fortnights... The whole situation of late, what with the various hassles of Milton Keynes, my cat dying, and not to mention some car-trouble, has left me rather on edge, irritable, and at times paranoid too, so I think a change of scene - even if it is only the short hop from the frying pan into the fire - will do me at least some good.
Yes, the car was the cause of some heated arguments. It's come to the Expensive Time Of Year, needing tax, new - non-standard, and hence costly - tyres, servicing and an MOT, and it was amazing how many self-styled experts suddenly pop out of the woodwork to say the car is either fine, iffy, or a downright heap, then change their minds and sow seeds of doubt wherever possible, and of course finally deny everything after the event. All told, the car's probably costing me about 400 pounds this month. It failed the MOT on account of some hidden rust, and I need to bring it back here next Friday afternoon to get it fixed and retested, but that's mainly a logistic rather than financial hassle, I'm happy to say, requiring me to take the afternoon off work, though I might wangle it so I bring some paperwork home with me and keep quiet.
I drove down to Odiham on Thursday to meet up with some of my old colleagues from Last Unicorn. I was expecting it all to be rather a waste of time, but it was surprisingly productive, although no decisions as such were made, just a discussion of the options we have to take the company forward, though with no mention of budgets being available, I can't really see a lot happening.
If they wanted me to do any further work over and above what I currently do - maintaining the web site and handling maybe a couple of product support queries per month - they would have to break every convention they have applied in the past and offer substantial cash up-front, a) because I now know how little effort they make to raise revenue from projects in which people invest time and money in good faith, and b) I would need to buy a new computer system to replace my aging 486SX; anything worth getting at the moment would cost me the best part of 2000 pounds, money I simply can't afford on the vague promise of a percentage royalty on sales generated by precisely nil advertising or real long-term strategy.
Nevertheless, as I said, the meeting was good-spirited, and ended with us in broad agreement on nothing too controversial, and was certainly worth the trip, since as well as John and Fran, I got to see Andy the studio engineer, and John's family, who I do rather miss - and not least their latest addition, Johnny, born about six months ago, who I had never seen before. Although the meeting was over before 7pm, by the time I had been fed pizza and salad, watched a film with the girls and had a good old natter with Anne, it was getting on for 10pm and about time I hit the road. Having said all that, I will try and claim my travelling expenses, because I did use a fair bit of petrol, and the 30 pounds or thereabouts that the trip would get me at 22.6p per mile would be very helpful!
So once again, this holiday hasn't quite worked out as planned, with nowhere near as many people visited as I'd hoped, but I've still been busy, what with cars, cats and unicorns, and it has given me a nice quiet reflective atmosphere in which I have been able to really start rationalising my thoughts with respect to many aspects of my life. That kind of rare opportunity is something it is impossible to put a value on; I guess it's why clerics go on retreats, and many artists and authors have had their most inspirational moments on windswept moors or in remote country dwellings with only nature for company. I often wish I could do likewise.
Hmmm, yes, now there's a thought... In this emerging information age, physical location becomes less and less of a barrier to ones career progression. So would it really be such a crazy proposition that, say when my contract with the Open University runs out in 1999, I - and my wife if I am married, which I surely hope - move into some gorgious isolated country house in some ludicrously cheap but utterly beautiful part of the country?
We could be as close to nature as we wanted, yet by the miracles of modern telecommunications, be close to hi-tech civilisation anywhere in the world. We could earn our living doing freelance computer and other work via the internet, and there would be ample space inside and out to practise our various creative and active hobbies.
For me, who has never really been too enamoured by the hustle and bustle of imposed city life, that would be pretty close to perfect bliss, and what a wonderful environment in which to raise ones children, so long as you weren't living excessively far from civilisation if need be, for schooling, entertainment, shopping and so on.
Am I just dreaming? Quite possibly, but surely there's nothing wrong in striving for something that is not total self-indulgence, but just making the most of ones life and enjoying God's creation in a way that could never be possible for me in anywhere like Milton Keynes.
Food for thought, anyway. One of the biggest problems will probably be finding someone who agrees with me, because it could be pretty miserable on my own when the winter weather closes in and suddenly civilisation seems light-years away... To have someone loving and wonderful to snuggle up to and share her everlasting sunshine on even the bleakest days would make my happiness complete. Stuff the matching pink and blue Discoveries though - well probably. There's far more to country happiness than green wellies and a springer spaniel, though I guess I might yet be persuaded...
Diaries, yes... In most cases they are uniquely personal insights into ones feelings, written on the spur of the moment about whatever is making one happy or sad. Mono diaries I guess are a little different because they are semi-public, but nevertheless anyone reading them should be under no doubt that what they are going to read is merely a subjective reflection of the author's feelings, perceptions, worries, paranoia, or whatever. If they can't stand the heat, then they shouldn't be in the kitchen.
After some recent problems which I don't wish to go into, it does give an immense boost when within just a few days, I have been quite unexpectedly described by pretty-much objective third-parties as both "a really nice person" and "kind-hearted", the later compliment appearing in the news section of an international glossy music magazine.
OK, so a few days earlier I was also described by Tim Bran, ex-Dreadzone musician, as being "a little too helpful", after saying a little too much regarding something about which I was sworn to virtual secrecy - but even that was closely followed by a reassurance of the guy's complete confidence in my integrity, trustworthiness and lack of malice in my actions.
Nevertheless, I think I'll go to the register office and get a deed-poll to change my middle names to 'Frequently' and 'Misunderstood'...