What's this all about?

It all started when Nick first talked about Club 8's 'Strangely beautiful' and I caught a glimpse of the songs contained within: that's when I first came across the phrase "the beauty of the way we're living." There was a surge of pictures and feelings, the world blurred for a moment and then I was left with a memory of a cold, wet November evening.

We had walked to a cafe by some railtracks in the pouring rain, only to find out we were the only ones brave enough to have done so. The room was huge -tall and quiet and empty- and I remember fiddling with my spoon, eating the cream off the top of my hot chocolate and occasionally smiling shyly at Nick while the rain went about its bussiness (hitting against the shop windows, sliding down and flooding the street) with a persistency I found breathtaking. It was a gloriously beautiful moment and yet, it was quiet in that. There was nothing I had done to get it that way, and there was nothing I had to do to keep it. I just drunk my chocolate and smiled at Nick a little more.

It's moments like these that stay with me throughout the years, that keep me going and that make me feel I have something to tell the world. You can tell, because fourteen months later and about ten days into 2004 (and having stolen borrowed the idea of a 'project for the year' from Alistair Fitchett) I decided to make writing about the beauty of the way that we are living my project for the year.

Here's what happened next.





 

#1:On winter and sunshine I
Ahead and above the cranes from the docks mark the place we want to get to. The sky's blindingly blue and there's sunlight everywhere, even in my heart.

#2:On winter and sunshine II
Give me strength to get through life. Give me grace to do it well. Make me someone who does the world good. And let it be right that I want to hold his hand.

#3:Because
"Swooning is more important than studying because contrary to popular belief life is not a leisure time activity". Discuss.

#4:Notes on the weather
"I bet that if you tried one single time you'd get it." It's not an admittance of my suberb aiming and pebble-throwing skills, probably because these are none-existant; it's a 'life's funny like that' sort of statement, and we laugh.

#5:Notes on February
Something I would like to be able to describe without getting poetic on you, but how can I make you feel what it's like to idly sit on a bench at twilight under a circling flock of birds?

#6:More notes on February
So we get our coats, So we get our coats, shoes and mobile phones, a mixtape and a chocolate bar and set off in what I think is a southbound direction. I only think so cause I know the sea lies south of Athens...

#7:Spring's restoration
What I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't think that this is all about counting my blessings. What it mostly is is an excercise in finding poetry in as many places as I can. On a good day, I can every try pointing it out to you.

#8:Spring songs & homemade heartaches
...and wanting to write "and did you care, when I cut my hair?" on a hundred walls even though I haven't cut my hair in quite a while and and I have no discernable wish to do so, either.

#9:Nostalgia homesickness and other kinds of longing
...and I write down lists of things that can make me cry and I count down the days to the moment the clocks will go forward and we'll all be thrust towards the future a little faster.

#9.5:Interlude: Eastercolours
...when I lift my eyes from whatever it was I was looking I see the flower market bathing in early evening sunlight and I fall in love with the sight, the place and the time so badly I have to come back every year.

#10:Confessions of a pop fan
On the day the clocks went forward rain fell softly on the pavement outside my window. People in raincoats and old-fashioned (or maybe just plain old) umbrellas paraded by, half-hidden by the flowers.

#11:What spring is for
As I sigh some more and swear to myself I'll try harder -even harder, as hard as it gets- the night creeps through my spring coat and my t-shirt; it touches my skin and makes me feel alive in places I had forgotten I owned.

#12:Here's to the summer
There was a cool breeze and hot sun and tourists and too much sunshine and though I had a hundred things to do I couldn't care less. All I could think of was "holidays!" and how the world looks utterly lovely on them sometimes.

#13:In defence of the summer #1
It reminds me that when I finished school I swore I would never get bored and I didn't for one moment think I'd have to try: it was inconceivable that I could ever get bored when I didn't have to be at the same place every day or learn Latin.

#14:On all sorts of summer and football
It might sound unpleasant but since all we can do is move towards the future we may as well look forward to it, and so I do. Or maybe it is just that I like to think that time is on our side.

#15:I told you so
...because all of a sudden we were having the greatest times, the sort of times I'd had in mind all throughout winter and spring when I kept singling along to the Tidy-ups or repeating to myself summer will be really nice.

#16:Wearing our little pop hearts on our sleeves (in London and in Sweden)
Because their movement corresponded to that of the feelings in my own heart and also because Chris promised my life would change if I overcame my fear of rollercoasters, I decided to go on one with him.

#17:What the train station really means
It wasn't a great place to be, really: it was damp even though the day had been sunny and the grass around it was spotted by rubbish and bits of broken glass and even the view didn't amount to much.

#18:Songs that make you go silent
"Come with me, we must get out of here. Let's go to Paris. I've never been there, but it looks great." Maybe one day I will stop being in love with Roger's voice but I hope the future will always look like Paris in this song.

#19:The bits in between the bits in between
I looked at the book. It didn't look like it was for me - the cover looked all wrong and so did the title and the names of the characters on the random page I looked at. I looked at myself. I look young, and my, do I swing between wonderful and hopeless.

#20:Lost but happy
The door is at the end of a corridor which is on the top of some stairs which are in a rather run-down building which is some way on the other side of the railtracks from where I live. It's past our bedtime, we're shy and tipsy and wondering what's on the

#21:Places where we shouldn't really be
That's what it was like, because that's what it was. We took turns to talk a lot as we walked away, bought some beer after pretending to consider a bottle of champagne and disappeared into the small streets.

#22:On the greatness of small things (first draft)
All I remember is leaning hopelessly against the bus stop and half-whispering when really I needed to shout: "Your life is your biggest work of art."

#23:The Mon Gala Papillons Memoirs
...when you can have the whole wide world packed in a simple, short song with rough edges, half-badly played, yet capturing enough sadness to make it stop turning and enough innocence to make it start again?