Sunday, 20 November 2011

Focus pocus

On Friday I head to the hills for Ollie's birthday. We are headed back to Snowdonia. This time it will be cold. I find myself preparing every day in some way. I enjoy prepartion. I find comfort in the focus it gives me and I find myself a far cry from those endless, aimless days horizontal and lost. Focus and preparation are perhaps some of the most practical tools in anyone's life, whether depressive or not. And what better thing to focus your mind than a change in season or the celebration of a great friend's continued existence. And in this fine case, both.

It is so easy to lose focus. There is so much distraction and so many things to draw your attention elsewhere, towards some exciting new thing that really will be of little actual worth. This I have found particularly disgusting and disturbingly emblematic...

To me it is bribery. You are not a good mother if you don't buy me x, y and z. And what are these things based on? Distraction, diversion. It disturbs me on many levels.

  1. Entertainment is- according to Littlewoods- almost entirely electronic, based under a roof and focused on a screen.
  2. Mothers- so many of whom are feeling the effects of a recession- are bribed into buying their kids the cool new sh*t that costs hundreds of pounds. But don't worry, you can slowly accumulate interest. And there is a threat there. I remember how I wasn't cool at school because I didn't have the right stuff.
  3. And this is probably the hardest for me to stomach: parents bribe their children with technology. You don't have to provide your kids with as much attention if you can send them off to repeat inane tasks for hour after hour in a digitally contructed, linear world.
I spent years addicted to video games and I lament those days now. Maybe after hundreds of hours on a game my problem solving abilities increased a little. But what real use does the ability to kill dozens of flying mushrooms in order to get the key hold in the real world? What am I supposed to do with that when the storm comes in or when I've run out of water? Real life isn't measured in replenishable hearts or bars.

I blackmailed my mother for years. I so badly wanted to thrust a blue hedgehog about that I harrassed her and eventually she gave in and for years thereafter my social life revolved around a steady stream of pixelated adventures and multiple homicide.

I still enjoy playing games occassionally now (a habit which I plan to kick), and I especially enjoy exterminating flying mushrooms with my nephew. But not all the time. Two of the best days in my life were spent on my nephew's first "wild camp".


Brimming with excitement and new skills.

Proud Uncle

He learned how to build and light a fire and was thrilled when his third marshmallow was perfectly toasted. None of the fears that he tells me about from his dreams or that keep him in need of an ajar door at night were present in the woods, even when the embers fizzled out and the pitch dark set in. He had straight away an eagerness and awe that were writ across his face the whole time. I will never forget how keen he was to photgraph mushrooms. Real mushrooms that- who knows- might actually be dangerous.

My mother is not cool because she bought me an N64. She is not lovely because she succumbed to my pressure to turn me into a dinosaur hunter and lizard go-kart champion. She is cool because she let my sister and I play for hours in the same Scottish stream and she is lovely because she loves to share her photos from the Hebrides and leaves out nibbles for the pine marten.

There is a place for technology, but it is a secondary place. It is a supporting role. Myself I'm a sucker for it. I've just bought neoprene socks on David's recommendation and have spent hours on the internet researching waterproof, breathable technologies and weighing up the pros and cons of a Kindle over my growing bookshelf. Clearly I'm writing a blog on a laptop whilst my electronic music idles away. But the reason I research and buy my gear is so that hopefully it will seem to melt from the forefront and allow my attention to remain more focused on what is there to see in the hills (and hopefully keep my feet warm and pack weight down). I will report back soon.

In the meantime, I fully recommend this beautiful music...


  1. great piece of writing. That kind of sh*t is the reason I don't have a TV - simple brainwashing. Well done for taking your nephew away for a bit of real.

  2. Awww Cammy just loved the camping trip!! Any time with Uncle Fat he absolutely
    loves xx

  3. Cheers David. It's crazy how you might well be considered strange for not having a television. I remember when I got rid of mine once people struggled with the idea. It certainly makes for a better living room though, with all the furniture pointing in better directions.

  4. It's a mutual thing! Sometimes I wonder which of us is learning more!

  5. What a horrible advert!! I remember now why I hate christmas. Awesome post xx

  6. Thanks Emily. I'm a scrooge too ;) x

  7. What happened on the mountain?! Are you still up there?! Windy!

  8. I wish I were! Alas, here I am in a cold flat in South East London. I don't mind the cold so much when I'm outside. But in here it just makes me bitter!

    Are we still on for the hills in your locality come January?

  9. yesyesyesyeyseyseyes!