no refunds

Today I sat with a friend and we talked about death and choices and how life can be shit.

We are helpless in the face of death, whether close to us, or detached. We do not cope well with it, we have not the words to comfort nor the capacity for true empathy. Everything becomes an inadequate platitude, a gesture bereft of anything but awkward meaning and sympathy. And we are more often than not horribly aware of that. And yet we blunder on.

I spoke to TB, a veritable flow of texts after so long a silence, and she questioned her choices, the veracity and appropriateness of them. Hindsight has its own peculiar lens, tainted by time, tinted by the present. It distorts the reality of those decisions, skews the weight of their consequences. It also reveals truths, shedding the illusion of the moment under the light of gained experience. Do we ever make the right choices? We make wrong ones, our self-awareness the limitation of that knowledge. Everything else is a hodgepodge of happenstance and circumstance, bedfellows of uncertainty.

We do the best that we can, casting the knucklebones with the surety of perceived wisdom. Some are inconsequential. Some are less so. Some choices are utterly fundamental in their life-changing consequences, and for those there are no refunds.



Solitude becomes a habit. It can, in time, bring its own comfort, be a bulwark. It can be wielded like a weapon, worn like armour, imbue with its very essence.

I have become solitary, enamoured with self-sufficiency and self-reliance. I have withdrawn from friendships, absented myself from those who mean most to me. I have treated my separateness as something more than it is, something virtuous when, in reality, it simply is. I exist in a vacuum.

And I am not sure why. I am not sure how I undo it. I am not sure if I want to.

There is an addiction to this form of loneliness, this unequivocal independence. It shields, it wraps, it stands firm, and like all things of this nature, it becomes more and more firm over time. It no longer protects, it binds. Gaps become chasms, walls thicken and grow, crenellated with self-preservation. Existence becomes a fortress.

I wonder if I am on the cusp of irreversibility. I wonder if it is too late.



Today was an exercise, despite a caffeine overdose near derailment, in recapturing my voice.

Having had a long absence from writing, whether creatively or otherwise, and with any writing being heavily academic based, I was painfully aware that I may have lost my voice, or style, or whatever you may want to call it. I had certainly lost my confidence.

Thankfully, today’s excursion into posting most publicly on Facebook revealed that all was not lost. At least, I think not.

A minor, but important, start.


A man has just sculled past on his two seater boaty thing, his 5 year old boy in front and rowing perfectly in time with him. Robby has just paddled past on his stand up board, totally at ease in his meanders. The sky is full of blue and the contrails of passing planes. My hands are cold. I am contemplating a second cup of coffee.


I am on my third cup of coffee, this time at the Underfall yard. I have resisted the homemade cherry bakewell slice since I have only walked half way round the docks. It is beautiful here, the sun shines and deck chairs sway in the breeze. I am contemplating signing up for the rowing boat (gig?) thingy. Rowing is fun. A long time ago I wrote a poem about the ferry boat Emily and the stories she embodies. She looks sadder out of the water, somehow lost and diminished.



My final stop on this amble. I have eschewed a fourth cup of coffee, for there are not enough toilets in the world to accommodate the drinking of another. A lovely morning; many coffees, many steps, many photographs, a surprising number of memories. Contemplation, nostalgia, an intense desire for bakewell slices or bordeaux quay cheese straws. I bought the latter. Obviously.



I am somewhat drunk on caffeine and a profound lack of sleep. I am lightheaded, wobbly and prone to musing. And so the next paragraph is explained.

My final detour (other than a trip into tesco to buy creme fraiche – I know – riveting!) was the Emotional Archaeology exhibition by Daphne Wright at the Arnolfini. Sculpture, for me, is as much about about the topology of the space left behind as it is about the intrusion into that emotional and physical space. This exhibition works – I was enchanted, although left a little nonplussed by the sketched portraits.

Now, in the spirit of the British obsession with three course meals, I am about to have a bordeaux quay cheese straw, a bowl of adobo and rice, and apple crumble with creme fraiche. And, almost definitely, a nap.



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.



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.



… 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…


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…



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 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…


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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