A New Dope

 

Well… where to begin?

I shall try not to move anything in here lest the resulting dust cloud cause a local storm scare or something.

I’ll go into more detail in a later post, about all that has happened in the past 18 months, but… long story short: I got really busy with lots and lots of other things after returning to England.

If there are any remaining readers of this blog who can remember its very early days, then I’m sure I don’t need to explain who The Swedish Flowerpot is. However, since most of my original readers ran away when I was foolish enough to untie the ropes and let them out for 5 minutes of fresh-air (rookie mistake!), I should just explain that The Swedish Flowerpot was a lady living in Newfoundland, who began writing her blog at roughly the same time as I did before moving back to her home country of Sweden. A mutual appreciation for one another’s  writing and sense of humour led to a “WordPress friendship”… then later a “facebook friendship”… then a “Skype friendship”… then a meeting in real life… then a romantic relationship (I’ll skip the quotation marks for that one)… then an engagement… then a move to Sweden… then a marriage… then a move back to England… and, now… an impending Sleepless-Flowerpot-Knight-Swede-WordPress baby!

Yup! I am writing this because the tiny little newborn product of this complicated and exciting romance is due to drop into our lives at any moment…

No… literally… any moment. That was not hyperbole. The child of Sleepless Knight and The Swedish Flowerpot is now six days overdue.

So that’s where we are. In limbo. The flat has been tidied and re-tidied; the garage has been cleaned out; the flat has been re-painted; the nursery (well… alcove really) has been set-up; all the shopping has been done. I daren’t take on another audio-book project at the moment because they usually have fairly tight deadlines, and there will be a screaming, newborn baby in this house any day now, which I think deserves at least a week of my undivided attention before I get back to work.

Just an hour ago, I was playing “The Imperial March” to the bump, in an attempt to imply that Lord Vader and/or The Emperor, were most displeased with her apparent lack of progress, but evidently she found my lack of faith neither disturbing nor amusing. So… I’m here talking to you people (or, more likely, myself).

wordpressbaby

I actually had the opportunity to return to this blog a few weeks ago, but I started making an image for my triumphant return and, as usual, got waaay too carried away making a whole “epic scene”. I then became unwilling to return properly until I had made the image as amazing as I hoped it could be. Wait until you see it… you’ll love it. Actually you probably won’t even notice, but if the adulation of others was my reason for doing things I think I would have stopped getting out bed the first time a teacher said to me “Stop that! It’s not big and it’s not clever!”

I mean Donald Trump is not big… and 25 seconds of listening to one of his speeches will certainly cure you of any notion that there is anything clever about him, but look where he is. And from nothing! Starting with nothing but a “small” loan from his father of $1,000,000!

Well… I promised myself this post would be about nothing but the baby so I will go now before I get sidetracked still further.

I have just finished recording a book for an author on Amazon, so I will put in a link to that once it goes on sale, but until then… get on with your lives as normal and await further instructions.

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The Final Countdown – 1…

Well, my big move from Sweden back to England is almost upon us. There’s packing to be done. The apartment is littered with unfilled boxes, and a little procrastination seemed in order. So I made a cup of tea; told facebook I was procrastinating; told a few of my friends, and had a conversation in the kitchen about procrastination in general. It seems as though all that remains is to spend a little time with you people, and then I guess I’ll actually have to put things in bubblewrap. Incidentally, to make this all seem even more last minute than it actually is… I am actually writing this on Friday, though you will be reading it on Monday.

So… it’s nice of you to have stuck with me through all 10 of these. And, if you haven’t done… I’m sure you’re just as nice, just perhaps not as bored as the ones who have. By this time tomorrow I will have landed back in the United Kingdom. So I should give you one more example of something I will miss about Sweden, versus something I have missed about England.

As you may or may not know, I have never really been much of a people person. I’m not exactly anti-people, but I have never actively sought the company of other human-beings. I never got very good at interacting with them really. So many people over the years, having observed my awkwardness, would say:

“Just be yourself, and everything will be fine.”

After a few years I accepted that this might be a good plan and finally actually started not to try so hard… After observing this , those closest to me started saying things like…

“You do talk… a LOT! Perhaps just try not to give so much information.”

So, now I was confused, because that’s what I’m like when I’m “being myself”. So I tried not speaking, and people thought I was weird. It seems as though I was always struggling to find an in-between. And then… I met the lady who is now my wife. She remains the only person who has ever told me to be myself, and actually meant it. She knows I’m a procrastinator; she knows I sulk sometimes; she knows I talk waaay too much for a single human-being, and she doesn’t care. She knows I’m a perfectionist, and is well aware how often that goes hand-in-hand with procrastination, but she just laughs it off.

I guess what I’m doing here is being myself, and giving you far too much information about why I don’t seek out the company of others. However, when others find me, I’m usually very happy to have them in my life, just so long as they don’t expect a regular schedule of social interaction, or indeed interactions of any kind that take place before noon.

Why am I banging on about this? Well…

What I will miss #1: These People

Everyone

 

Some people drop into your life and drift out just as quickly. New family and friends usually come as part of a package deal when a new relationship comes along, and where my wife’s family and friends are concerned I have been fortunate. I love them all, and will miss all of them. Not that I won’t see them from time-to-time, but they certainly won’t be just around the corner any more.

But then… if you’re really lucky, you get a part of that package which was much more than you expected. For me, that is this person:

Tilda

She has been a friend to me in ways I could never have anticipated, and she means more to me than she knows. I might even go so far as to say… all I want to do is praise her. Sometimes she is a pain in the ass. We have our differences and I’m certain there have been many times when she would have liked to wring my neck like a chicken, if not for the fact that she would never do that to a chicken.

All of these people were unexpected benefits of being married to the lady I waited my entire life for, and I hope they know how deeply their absence will be felt.

Of course… as with all the other things on this countdown, there are compensations. In this case…

What I have missed #1: These People

UKpeople

There are one or two missing from here, simply because I have no photographs of them, but basically, the people in this photo are those around whom my life in England, to a greater or lesser extent, revolves. Some of them are a greater influence than others, but all are important to me.

Of course, none more so than these ones:

Me & Kiddies

…if you can ignore the elderly bloke in the middle. He’s only there to stop them from escaping.

My children are a couple of years older now, but this is still my favourite photograph of all of us.

But there is one missing. The boy who became a man… the man who became a King… the king who became… a GOD!

Richie

Whoa! Did I oversell that, or what? Alas… his plans to become ruler of the world have so far come to nought, but he did get married and become a father. And he remains one of the most important parts of my life. I’m looking forward to seeing him again. To that emotional, heart-rending moment when I knock on his door again, and he answers it with the words…

“Oh it’s you. Come in and try not to break anything.”

All of them (though I have seen them many times since moving here to Sweden) have been dearly missed, and all of them… more than the Springtime; more than 24 hour shopping, or the beautiful countryside… are the things pulling me back toward home.

I don’t seek out company, but sometimes it finds me and refuses to let go. Sometimes, in spite of myself, there are people who my world feels emptier without. Most of them are on this page. My beautiful wife of course, is going with me on this next adventure.

This next, will be my 28th address. When I was younger, I used to long to keep moving.  Every time I moved was a chance for new friends, and new adventures. The rootless life was something I craved, like so many other people in their teens, and their 20s. Nowadays though, I have much more of a solid idea of the people and places that I want around me, and – to borrow a phrase from Marvin the paranoid android – when people tell me that a whole new life awaits me, my response is likely to be…

“Not another one!”

It’s all started now, baby blue…

In the last 3 weeks, there have been 2 marriages and 2 brand-new, bouncing babies, in the whirlwind world which surrounds my own, making all the dried-up little leaves of my life leap to whatever tune it chooses… and occasionally spitting out a week of watching television with a cup of tea.

OK… a lot of that alliterative list was littered with… STOP IT!!!!

*Deep breaths*

So I got a little carried away there, but I am extremely tired. I will now try to write like a normal person, albeit a normal person with one arm tied behind his back and a complete insensitivity to the conventions of blogging (whatever those are).

The bit about the babies and the brides was completely true though. One of the weddings was my own… here is a picture to prove it.

Sleepless Knight & The Swedish Flowerpot tie the knot, 2 and a half years after meeting on WordPress

Sleepless Knight & The Swedish Flowerpot tie the knot, 2 and a half years after meeting on WordPress

Yes; long after our first meeting, here on WordPress, The Swedish Flowerpot and I were married… to each other! More pictures from our wedding can be found on my Best Man’s own blog, here.

But, no sooner had I acquired a brother-in-law, than he goes and gets married himself, giving me an extra sister-in-law, as well as the one (or possibly two) that I already had. Confused? You will be! Some of these relationships confuse me, so if you can make sense of them from my dis-jointed, clumsy, unrefined blog posts… please contact NASA immediately; they’ll want to hear from you.

In between these two weddings, a little baby boy was born. Actually, since 2 weeks elapsed between the weddings, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if several babies were born, but the one I am talking about belongs to the long-haired bloke with the glasses in THIS VIDEO:

I know… it doesn’t bear thinking about really does it? Fortunately he has a lovely wife to make sure he doesn’t turn this kid into a Red-Bull-fuelled engine of orc-slaying, beat-em-up-playing nerdiness, with a strange affinity for squirrels and a use of the words “meh” and “boobies” with a frequency that would almost qualify the boy as bilingual.

The father of this brand new person was once my son… To clarify: He was once my step-son. He was then supposed to be my best man, but the imminent arrival of junior meant that my best man was my best woman. Are you following all this?

I drew a picture which should make things clearer…

I was going to go into more detail, and add some of the other important people in the story, but I thought it better to keep it simple

I was going to go into more detail, and add some of the other important people in the story, but I thought it better to keep it simple

If that image helped you in any way at all… you’re much sicker than you originally thought.

  1. Open a new browser window.
  2. Find your nearest psychiatric hospital.
  3. Call and ask for a car to the opera and a stylish jacket with extra long sleeves.
  4. Find any mirrors that you didn’t smash in your futile attempts to stop seeing the “little people”
  5. Wipe the drool off your face and wait for your escorts to arrive.
  6. If they have not arrived after one hour, make a cup of tea, call back and tell them you just caught Tom Cruise in a spring-trap.

The second new baby belongs to a young lady I am unfamiliar with. But a new baby is always worth a mention. I only really added it because it makes my life seem busy and exciting.

In truth, the only reason for this blog-post was to say: Two people who met right here on WordPress are now married. The wedding was a roaring success. Richard is still alive and well, and is now a father. Some other people you don’t know are now married, and yet another person you don’t know is now a mother.

Now the real adventure begins. In the next few months, I must discover what service I can legally offer people in return for money, so that when Amki and myself return to England in a couple of years, we won’t have to start looking for work all over again… I will start submitting the novel to agents yet again (NO “flogging a dead horse” cracks here please)… IF I can get a decent video camera from somewhere, I will try breathing life back into the YT channel again (I really do miss it intensely), and I will find a way to recover the data on my old computer, so that I can start editing the 3 videos I already have in the queue.

Apologies if this post made even less sense than my usual ones… but I really am very tired indeed.

Next time: Back to plain-old blog posts that have nothing to do with weddings or babies (unless a baby gets married between now and then, because I think that would be worth a mention).

Until then… Don’t bend over for the soap.

Pressed together: Pt IX

 “27 Addresses”

-Everything must go-

After a long and difficult decision process, James & Amki decided that living apart was too hard. James had tried finding work in Stockholm from England, but turning up for interviews was problematic at best, so… in August 2012, he explained the situation to his children, then sold almost everything he owned, in order to have money while he looked for work, rolled his suitcases down Steep Hill for the last time, and moved to his 27th address; in Stockholm.

James visits his children in England as often as money allows, and the couple plan to move there once Amki has finished her degree at university.

Despite having been led to believe that such a move would be fairly straight-forward for an EU citizen, Amki and James have had a long-running battle with the Swedish tax and migration services.

On their way to this point they have had to bluff their way into work, deal with many unexpected expenses on top of the everyday ones; battle glandular fever, kidney stones, exploding computers and a broken wrist. They have had help all the way from friends and family who have given them places to stay during their visits to England, helped them travel to hospital, plan surprises, replace broken computers, and, of course, helped them to plan and carry out a successful wedding day (fingers crossed)

As with every other newly married couple, James and Amki hope to have a very long journey ahead of them. And, like every other journey, it is sure to be fraught with fatigue, frustration and difficulty, both expected and unexpected. But, a journey is always best when shared with someone you love, and the places you visit are always that much more magical when seen through the eyes of another. Particularly one who still views ordinary things with wonder and excitement. Anyone who expects to get through life without hardship, clearly hasn’t been paying attention, but surviving a difficult journey together makes you that much better prepared for those which lie ahead, and arriving at a place which seemed so completely impossible when you started out, makes a special thing that much more difficult to let go of when things inevitably become tough, or begin to seem ordinary.

These two travellers have known the pain of living hundreds of miles apart, and if they can keep their heads together and remember those times, when the road seems too dark or difficult to be worth the effort… who knows what they will see.

Stop 9 Final Stop

Pressed together: Pt VII

 “An Interrupted Proposal”

-Midsummer Mosquitoes & Rings of Rosewood-

Fittingly perhaps, the only people besides Amki to meet James on his first visit to Stockholm were her sister, Anna (Maid of Honour), and her best friend and flat-mate, Tilda (Best Man).

By June of 2012 however, James had visited many times, met most of Amki’s nearest and dearest, and was getting ready to enjoy a Swedish midsummer festival with several of them.

It was during this visit that James had planned to ask Amki a very big question. It felt odd doing so without a ring, but visiting Stockholm every few weeks is a very expensive business, and it doesn’t leave much room for ring-buying. So… taking some elastic bands and the motor from an old Dremel power-tool, he built a very small, and dangerous-looking lathe, and used it to make an engagement ring from the rosewood fretboard of an old guitar.

After a crash-course in Swedish tradition, James asked Amki if she wanted to go into the night air for a walk. He had been online, and found out how to ask the question in Swedish, but realised the problem with reading the words on a page is that you can never be completely sure how it is pronounced. Obviously, this is one question you want to be sure to get right, so he opted for English, found the ring in his pocket, and was about to ask… when Anna came outside to see what they were doing. James motioned with his hands to Anna, when Amki turned around, but hastily improvised sign language proved difficult to understand and Amki began following Anna back inside, in an attempt to get away from the mosquito-filled night air. Thinking as quickly as his poor English brain would let him, James waited for Anna to go through the door, asked Amki to stop and turn around, got down on one knee and asked… in English… on the front porch of the house in which Amki had grown up… if she would let him be her husband.

-James later told Amki about the Swedish version… He would have pronounced it incorrectly after all.

Stop 7

Pressed together: Pt VI

 “The Girl in the Red Hat”

-A wait in the cold, a meal in the warmth-

On the morning of February 2nd, 2012, Amki put on her red hat (a further reference to the film “Elizabethtown”), and set out to meet the Englishman whose journey had begun at 7.00pm on the night before.

Having very little money meant James must find the cheapest possible fares, and that meant a long, long journey, with many changes and many hours of waiting. A walk down the cobbled streets of Lincoln’s Steep hill with a rolling suitcase; a run past the castle and through the town, between train stations at Newark; and a worried change of train at Stevenage, with only 5 minutes between arrival and departure. By the time James reached Cambridge, it was 2 degrees below freezing, and the train station then closed for 3 hours. He walked around Cambridge in the cold, trying to find a warm place with cheap coffee, which proved surprisingly difficult considering he was in one of the most famous university cities on Earth. He finally flew out of Stansted airport, towards Stockholm, at 6.05 in the morning.

James & Amki met face-to-face for the first time, in the snow outside Skavsta airport, just before noon on the morning of February 2nd, 2012.

There’s a funny thing about sitting next to someone on a bus, who you have loved for some time, and exchanged every detail of your life with, but have only just met… It takes a while for you to realise that the flesh & blood person you are sitting next to is the same person you have written to, recorded messages for, and seen on the other side of a computer screen for many months. It is a strange, and very 21st century moment, totally in keeping with the rest of their peculiar relationship, but in the end all it takes to make it real it again is a good old-fashioned first date.

Theirs was at Dolce Vita, in the middle of Stockholm, where a very enthusiastic waiter brought them a very enjoyable meal, and wished them well for the future.

Stop 6

Pressed together: Pt V

 “59 & 37”

-Bacon sandwiches, and a book full of tea-

As the end of 2011 approached, James and Amki had each become accustomed to seeing the other’s face, and, thanks to facebook, WordPress and Skype, had spent more hours talking about their likes, loves, and tales of happiness and sorrow than most couples do in a lifetime. James had written many letters (actual letters, with ink on them and everything), and would write many more over the coming months, but he and Amki were both keen to see if this thing would survive the harsh light of real-life.

James booked a flight to Stockholm and somewhere to stay, but his journey was still 59 days away. His flat-mate, Mr. James Farnsworth, suggested they make a countdown, and, on the back of a roadsign which Farnsworth had picked up on one of his late-night excursions, he wrote exactly how many days remained, as well as how many bacon sandwiches (Farnsworth & Moors’s favourite late-night snack), and cups of tea he estimated would be consumed by the date of departure.

James spent the few days over Christmas with his family, and upon returning to Mr. Farnsworth’s flat found a Christmas gift from Amki which had arrived in the post, with instructions to open it only on a certain day.

Inspired by one of James’s favourite films, in which the girl makes the guy a special road-map; full of music and tasks for his journey towards her, Amki had lovingly created an entire book with the words “37 days” written on the cover. On each of its 37 pages was a tea-bag, a different song, and a task for each day to keep his mind off the countdown. Her favourite of these daily tasks was designed to teach her one of the few things she did not yet know about the man she had come to love without ever meeting:

What does his face look like when he is truly disgusted with something?

Inside a little paper pouch, Amki had enclosed a piece of her favourite candy, along with an instruction for him to eat the contents only once she could see his face on Skype. It produced the desired expression of disgust, just as she had known Salt Liquorice would do…

Stop 5

Pressed together: Pt IV

 “A New Beginning”

-To Hell with it!-

James respected Amki’s choice to remain simply friends, but couldn’t reconcile her decision with some of the things she had said to him in their conversations. After twisting the puzzle over in his head, and discussing it with friends new and old, he came, rather uncharacteristically, to the conclusion that she may have been lying when she said she didn’t feel the same things for him.

The following week, during a friendly facebook conversation, James typed “To Hell with it!” in the conversation window. A few moments later, Amki’s phone rang… James was on the other end, and they had their first ever back-and-forth voice conversation. Amki eventually confessed that she hadn’t really wanted it to end there, and afterwards they found cheaper and cheaper ways to call one another, until Amki suggested the obvious alternative: Skype. And, late in 2011, the pair had their first face-to-face conversation, via video.

At the time… James & James (the other one was Farnsworth) were “borrowing” their internet connection from a mysterious open local router named “Eddie”. The problem with a borrowed internet connection was that you could never count on it being there, and Amki & James were often interrupted by severed internet connection. Sometimes for hours, sometimes days.

This was not the only problem. James could share his feelings and frustrations about the relationship with his friends. Amki however, had kept their relationship secret, for fear that “An older man in England, who I met on the internet” would probably not be an easy sell, where her friends and family were concerned. But, Amki eventually told her sister about James.

While Anna (maid of honour) had a fairly positive reaction to the whole thing, Tilda (best man) had understandable concerns, given that Amki had only recently returned from Canada. In light of these concerns, James decided that he must visit Sweden before Amki could visit England…

Stop 4

Pressed together: Pt III

 “A Beautiful Mess”

-From writings to recordings-

14 years apart and living in different countries. Amki referred to their relationship as “A Beautiful Mess” after a song by Jason Mraz.

The first recording that James sent to Amki, became the pattern for a new stage in their relationship. Night after night, James would walk beneath the stars in the autumn air of Lincoln, ignoring strange looks from passers-by, as he spilled out his feelings into a microphone. Night after night Amki would listen, and record a response.

J. Farnsworth (whose flat James was staying in), became used to the late-night excursions, and showed James how to send increasingly huge audio files over the internet.

Occasionally, Amki’s recordings would be interrupted when her flat-mate, Tilda, came home. Amki had no idea how she would explain why she was talking into a microphone, in English, late at night. How, after all, would it look to her friends and family if she told them that shortly after returning from 3 years in Canada, she had developed a relationship with a 37 year old Englishman she had met on the internet?

It seemed to Amki like an impossible relationship. They had no idea if they were ever going to meet, or whether they were both simply looking for something to fill the hole left by their previous relationships.

Worried that their fragile relationship might end without her and James ever getting to meet, or worse; that she would leave her life and education behind her, again, and move to England to be with him, Amki made one last recording; explaining that it had all been a bit of a mistake, and she just wanted friendship. It was a lie, but she figured it was the safest course of action for both of them…

Stop 3

Pressed together: Pt II

Catfish”

-You are welcome to add me if you feel so inclined-

James spent an entire afternoon reading, laughing, and sharing “Hyperbole and-a-half” and was so happy at Amki’s recommendation, he felt sure they could be good friends. He wrote a comment on her most recent post, in which he said “I don’t know if you have a facebook account, but you are welcome to add me if you feel so inclined”.

Amki added James as a facebook friend, and wrote a single line to him, referencing Douglas Adams: “Hello. This is the Swedish flowerpot. I am mostly harmless”

After several weeks of turmoil and change in both their lives, Amki and James finally had a back-and-forth conversation on facebook for the first time, shortly before Amki moved back to Sweden from Canada. James had watched Catfish (a film about a man who meets a crazy woman on facebook) the night before and was worried he might meet a lunatic on the internet. They spoke twice on facebook, and then didn’t speak again for several weeks… Their next conversation though, lasted for 6 hours, and this quickly became the norm.

Amki read James’s novel, James read Amki’s short stories. The two spoke for several hours every day, barely getting a wink of sleep, and developed what Amki referred to as “intellectual infatuation”. They talked about their histories, their friends and family, their loves and hates, likes and dislikes, until each declared their growing infatuation.

During one conversation, James mentioned a song he had always liked, and Amki sent him a recording made several years before, of her singing the same song. He loved her voice, and she later wrote James a song entitled “Hope”. Now… his heart was in serious trouble. He decided that instead of a facebook message, he would make Amki an audio recording…

Stop 2