winter’s coming

Insomnia strikes! It is nearly 4am and I have been awake since 2am – mainly listening to the rain on the window. There is something wonderfully therapeutic about the sound of rain, about dark, early mornings and the relative absence of life on the streets.

Whilst I have begun to enjoy summers more (once again) I still love autumn and winter and the long dark hours of the twilight season.

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reflection

In the beginning I wrote fabergemonkey for myself. Back then I had next to no readers and it was a lovely, anonymous exercise in writing and learning to express myself in such a way as to explore my thoughts and interests whilst not revealing too much.

Eventually I gained some readers and followers, and although the interaction was sporadic my writing became a little more aware that it had an audience.

The real change was when people I knew, either in real life or on twitter, became readers, commenters and actively interested in what I thought, felt and wrote, regardless of whether they agreed with what I had written or not. It was a strange transition, and one that left me at times uncomfortable and all too aware of the nuance and interpretation of a post and the impact it had on real world relationships.

In both the latter instances it became harder to write for myself without the influence of that awareness and so my writing tailored itself, subconsciously or not, to the existence of that audience. My writing, in effect, became quantum (using the commonly misunderstood definition of the quantum-observer effect). Writing, once read, leaps away from the writer, no matter how skilled they are at their craft, and becomes the property of the reader and what they bring to the party.

Over time my interest waned and all the topics and conversations I wanted to hold had been covered. And so I parked the blog, metaphorically threw away the keys (although I apparently kept a spare set) and hitch-hiked away to the horizon.

I now find myself back at the beginning of my journey, with a blog stuffed full of memories and explorations, with no audience and the freedom to think and talk about all the stuff that has happened over the last two or three years. Will themes be re-trod? Of course. Time and distance add perspective, age lends a type of wisdom and absence resurrects the desire to write and think and meander once again.

The words come easily when you have something to say, they flow with an unreserved honesty in that absence of an audience. It is, after all, easier to sing in the shower than on the stage.

 

resurrected…

… unearthed? Rediscovered, maybe.

fabergemonkey has lain fallow for a very long time, a veritable barren wilderness of space, a dearth of words and thoughts and intent. And I had thought I had lost it, in its original form, buried in dropbox or somewhere similar, never to be found again, never to exist again, at least not without a struggle. It was a thought, and a memory, words half-remembered to time and place long gone.

Only I hadn’t archived it, I hadn’t deleted it, I had simply pointed to another folder and another database. Typically.

Writing a blog of any sort forms a narrative, a rambling potted history of silliness, laughter, musings, thoughts, despair, tragedy, sadness, hope and incidents beyond count. There are conversations with self, a broadcast into a tiny bit of the internet, fragile connections to readers and commenters, to friends long gone and friends still around.

Starting a new blog was hard, almost impossible, without that historical and emotional inertia to drive me onwards. This blog is seven years of my life, sporadic and skewed, tangible in its distant griefs and loves and playfulness. It anchors the present, it reminds me of what I once thought, felt and entertained. It is a signpost to my future, in all its mistakes, errors, misconceptions and naivety.

I am both terrified and elated to have it back.

To paraphrase James Kirkup… these words were made for writing. And so I shall…

archival

It has been quite a long time since I started this blog and, after so many year and months and so many words and photographs, it is time to come to an end. So I will be archiving fabergemonkey the blog as-is, to eventual pivot the site into something else, although I am not yet clear what that something else is.

On the off chance that some of you still stop by on occasion, I want to thank you for your time, patience, comments and interest. Until something new happens here… have fun doing what you are doing, and try not to break it whilst you do so….

 

ICFA Archive Stacks

dead centre

One of the comments that was made to me when I was shooting the Toad Warwick the other night was that I am ‘very quick’. I have known this from the start.

I don’t like hanging around. I have started to establish a consistent pre-aim routine, which settles me into the act of raising the bow and arrow, finding my setting point, aiming and releasing. The next step in the process, the setting of the arrow, has also begun to find a consistency that allows me to have a, well, more consistent draw and release.

I aim, but I don’t aim for long. I have a consistent approach to aiming, although the application is not always what I would like it to be. Aiming, at its simplest, is the relationship between the eye, bow-string, sight and the target. Consistency is achieved by ensuring that the four come together in the same manner, at the same speed and, hopefully, with the same result, every single time. And this assumes that there is a consistency in equipment, the draw and the setting point as well. Not an easy thing when you think about it.

This process is very quick for me, and therein lies a degree of inconsistency. I think my problem is not so much my speed, but not releasing when I am not quite on target. All too often I release, because of the speed, when it is close enough, and that isn’t quite right. I need to learn, on top of everything else, to stop and reset to ensure that the aim is bang on, or as near as dammit.

Practice, as they say, makes perfect. Oh for a range of my own…

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June update

It has been a while since I wrote a blog post, and in the in-between times since then and I now I seriously considered shuttering fabergemonkey.com. Too much history in these posts, too much fancy and frolics and unabashed soul-searching. No matter, the website is as part of me as not…

“I am the law…”

I managed to finish W100 of my law degree at the end of May. The final few units and weeks were a little bit of a slog, partly down to my own temperamental and mercurial approach to study during that time. However it is done with. It has been an interesting experience and I have (mostly) enjoyed the journey. I am surprised that I find law and its intertwining with society and culture as interesting as I thought it would be. I think this module, in some form or another, should be taught at schools so everybody has a grounding in and understanding of such a fundamental part of their lives.

Regardless, roll on October and W200…

“Fast!”

In case you didn’t know, the command above is one of the ultra-important ones on an archery field that means you have to stop whatever you are doing until told otherwise. No loosing of shots, no nothing.

I have been shooting for a few months now and am thoroughly enjoying it. I haven’t been able to make all the sessions (Tuesday can be difficult for me) but when I do it is generally a blast, although poor performance on my part can bring me down a peg or two.

The Friday just gone was our regular monthly (during the summer) Toad Warwick event. I shot a Junior Warwick, meaning that after six practice shots I had to shoot two dozen arrows at 40m and two dozen at 30m. As these are the furthest distances I have attempted it was a natural choice.

And I didn’t do too badly. Out of a possible 216 points per distance I managed (from my point of view anyway) a respectable 162 and 182 points respectively. Not bad for a first time. I am looking forward to the next one to see if I can better my scores. It also means that I am probably of a standard to achieve my Tockington 200 badge at both distances (200 or more points from three dozen arrows).

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faith

I am not, in the traditional sense, a religious person. I do not believe in God. I do not believe in gods and goddesses. I do not believe in spirits and shades, or an over-arching Gaia.

I believe in people. I believe in their right to their beliefs, to their faith. But only if they respect the rights and beliefs of others.

But it doesn’t mean I can’t understand the beauty that can be brought about by faith. For all the atrocities, hatreds, deaths and debacles brought about by faith, it brings other more benign, beautiful things too. Acts of courage. Acts of faith and fealty. Acts of principle and kindness. Small acts. Great acts. Sacrifices minor and total. Sometimes it just brings lovely things, a smile, a gesture, laughter, the extension of what is good about people into the open.

I miss the surety of faith. I miss the boundaries, the expectations, the understanding it brings. I miss the lines drawn and the principles made. I miss them, because they simple things, although incredibly hard to live up to.

But it wasn’t for me. Mine is a more malleable world. Less defined, less black and white, mostly shades of grey. People can be defined and contained by their faith, limited by its strictures and structures. That isn’t for me. I miss the surety, but it is not me. I miss the purity of it, but it is not for me. I cannot live up to such ideals, so I must live up to those I can. My faith was ever lacking, because faith is total, and to believe totally, for me, is a terrible, total thing. It is all encompassing, a singularity of purpose and definition. And I am a fractured thing.

It is not for me.

But it does not mean I cannot appreciate the things it brings. Sometimes appreciation is all you need. Sometimes faith is a vehicle for what lies in all of us. Sometimes it is a word, a touch on the shoulder, a kindness and a comfort. Sometimes it is a song.

of fountain pens and men

Or me, to be specific.

Fountain pens have become a little bit of a smidgeon of a obsession with me of late. I love the feel of them and writing with them, and watching ink flow across paper is simply too pleasurable an experience to properly explain.

To date I own on two fountain pens – a Sheaffer white dot that I think is from the fifties and another beautiful silver one, with intricate gold banding, that could be modern or vintage, such is its condition. Of the two the latter is the one I use the most – the nib is smooth and graceful, more so than my handwriting and it is a pleasure to write with, even when the ink flow is ebbing. The white dot is also pleasurable, but occasionally it gets irascible and scratchy and doesn’t really want to know.

Today I took receipt of my third pen, a lovely Parker Duofold AF in dark red, purchased through the excellent and informative GoodWriters website. It is the equal of the silver Sheaffer to write with, although I have a tendency to spray the odd spot of ink about the place – which is probably more to do with my vigorous gesticulation rather than any fault with the pen.

Yesterday I actually wrote some letters with the fountain pens and it was a fab experience. I just need to post them now, which is the other half of the battle.

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The silver Sheaffer and a Uniball Jetstream

Silver Sheaffer White Dot and Parker Duofold AF

Silver Sheaffer White Dot and Parker Duofold AF

 

Review: The Ten Thousand by Paul Kearney

This is number 2 in the 2014’s Books Actually Read list. The fact that, when on a roll, I usually read anywhere from two to five books in a week makes this a somewhat sad statistic, especially when considering it is now the end of February.

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WTF? How did we get to the end of February already?

Anyway. Paul Kearney’s The Ten Thousand chronicles the events following the hiring of ten thousand Macht mercenaries, who are subsequently marched across another continent to topple the Great King of the Kuf of the Asurian empire, all in the name of said Great King’s wannabe Great King-toppling brother.

The Macht are renowned warriors, fighting in disciplined phalanxes and loosely based on the Greek city-states of yore. The story primarily follows Rictus, who joins the army not long after the destruction of his own city, taking on the colour before eventually rising through the ranks to command the entire caboodle. Not without cost, obviously.

The Macht are human in nature; disciplined, professional and brutally direct in combat. The Kuf are taller and more exotic something-elses; rich, bound by tradition and politics. There is not only a clash of arms here, but one of race, culture and prejudice.

The story is excellently written, the combat both gritty and real, and the writing itself compliments the setting – there is a slightly old-fashioned spartan feel to Paul Kearney’s style that just works for me, especially in context of the no-nonsense Macht attitude. Yes, yes, I did just do what you thought I did.

I enjoyed this immensely and blitzed through it, and then bought the two sequels. With luck I will manage to read them this year.

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This morning I was slightly taken aback to find this (below) in my Facebook news feed 🙂

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It certainly brightened my insomnia-induced early morning!

Tuesday night was the final lesson and it was good fun. Due to the smaller numbers I was able to revert to the training bow I was initially using and almost immediately got back my accuracy.

We had a small competition, which I won. I managed to score 333 out of a possible 360, hitting 15 golds (10s) out of a possible 36 arrows. Well chuffed.

Granted, there was the small matter of the distance (18 yards) and the target size (outdoor targets as opposed to the more usual teeny-weeny indoor targets) but hey, beginner here.

I do love the feel of archery, the rhythm of draw, aim, release and the thrill of getting  tight grouping. There is something wonderfully absorbing and relaxing about it all, and the friendly atmosphere really adds to the overall happiness of the activity.

Tonight is my first club night – excited!