20th December 2016
If, like me, you are a single Northern fella, you will only ever find yourself in the stationery department of Selfridges if a stunning Northern girl is involved.
Stationery for me is the more pertinent, blank side of a long overdue Thames Water bill and a stolen micro pen from Corals, the type which is good to tick a box on an accumulator sheet but not your best friend if you want to translate the Bible into Mongolian.
My friend is looking for a particular diary amongst the concession stands of Smythson and Mont Blanc, the former which I thought up until now, was a mountain or at best a desert. It’s not – it’s million dollar pens for million dollar hands.
“What do you think of Trump getting in love?!”
The signal box in my brain jams a leaver down and the train jolts onto another track at alarming pace.
“He needs a hard punch in the kidneys”
We laugh while weaving in and out of Stabilo Gel pens and bubblegum scented note pads.
“I like the chaos he’s brought though…”
Sometimes I speak without thinking. My friend shrieks thank God. For a moment I thought she might think I am a walking, talking actual living version of Loki, that psycho from The Avengers.
“I get that!” she reassuringly quips
Thank God she does, because it’s only now I really understand what I meant by saying that slightly perverse sounding remark.
2016, OK it’s been a kicker for a lot of people; most of you would say it has been chaos in the negative sense.
Bowie died on day one, and it was as if his passing unleashed some angel of celebrity deaths across the world. Politically you may feel a little fragile – some of you may feel slightly empowered by it as well.
The weather at times was OK; the football was like cheap truffle oil, dreadful unless you are from the midlands or Iceland.
For me, 2016 was like Rocky 1,2,3 rolled into one. Chaos, batterings, rags, riches, loneliness and at times intense relationships.
It’s been a year of extreme highs and extreme lows. I lost three friends to a noose, and gained some incredibly important people. I like to compare it to a poorly made lasagne. Some layers where the ground sausage, hard-boiled eggs and mozzarella have been perfectly balanced, rich warm and tasty. Other layers where you find the chef has substituted the latter for a thick crust of saw dust and horse teeth. Chaos.
The way I have dealt with it is two fold. I had to dip into a little philosophy from opposite ends of the spectrum, one being the Greek writer Hesiod, and the other Rocky Balboa.
Hesiod said that Chaos was a beginning, a murky bag of who’s its, trinkets and what nots (to put it in Little Mermaid lay man terms).
It’s not a negative, it’s just all a little bit messed up, but a preamble to something better.
Chaos is the forerunner to Gaia (earth, creation) Tartarus (the darkness of the underworld/abyss) and finally Eros, which for all you Londoners changing at Piccadilly Circus and classicists will know as LOVE.
Chaos isn’t therefore that bad. It’s the opening credits to something better; it’s a bit of a complicated/unnecessary amuse bouche to a great plate of food. You just have to get through it and something better will be at the other end.
I am not a political person; you have to have something invested into society for that – children, mortgage, a car, a season ticket to city or a Kitchen Aide.
So chaos kind of suits me as a single Northern man-child. Anything could happen, and that’s kind of what I find exciting about life.
That’s applicable to me, but I guess what I am attempting to articulate is that a bit of chaos isn’t a bad thing. It makes you think, it makes you define who you are. Chaos is exciting, challenging, thought provoking and creative. That’s what I am taking from it anyway.
If that doesn’t swing it for you, take the muffled, punchy street philosophy of my hero, Rocky Balboa, wrap yourself in it and tense those mental abs.
“Life isn’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep going forward kid!”
So ride it out. Roll with the punches and out of your little dot of chaos, something will happen. That trough quickly becomes a peak as my own personal Micky (Rocky ref.) told me over a coffee in St. Pancras after a pretty brutal beating from Jack Daniels and a bird.
Thanks 2016, you rascal. Here’s my recipe of 2016, it’s good for morale and makes everything better.
“Get 100g of good pasta (treat your sen) and drop into boiling salty water (salt is key for morale).
Buy the most expensive tomatoes God created, I like a San Marzano, open the can and smell.
Fill a battered old pan with some top-notch olive oil, if I sense you using rapeseed or a blend I will unleash the 7 plagues of Egypt unto your person.
Heat the oil, drop some basil in, don’t let it fry, just bubble a bit. When you cant stand the bubbling, add half the tomatoes and crush them, fast and hard.
Turn the heat full. Add salt (morale) cook for 5 minutes.
Add the pasta after 8 minutes, coat well, get all the flavour of tomatoes into the pasta. Add more basil, now add pecorino and toss some more.
Plate. Add more oil and cheese.
That’s a pasta Pommodoro, its what keeps me going and hope it will you too”