I have it on no less an authority than the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that the advice given in the title is (a) glib and (b) a contradiction in terms. I fear it will be difficult to speak to (a) without risk of appearing glib myself, however, I feel on safer ground with (b). It is quite possible – and probably wise – to expect that something unexpected will occur without needing to have any idea what this might be or when it might happen.
Being single, my life is very self-directed – if we ignore the demands of work – and yet is full of unexpected moments (and even longer events). I suspect the incidence of the unexpected has risen since I started to spend ever more time away from the orderly tedium of my home life – all this interaction with other people and the world at large must be having an effect. This post started as an idea earlier in the week following a couple of encounters with the unexpected, but I fear may rather have grown over the following days. I shall try and manage its length by sticking to short vignettes (and relying on the power of the image) from my week, but my logorrhoea may get the better of my good(ish) intentions.
During the interval of a gig…
…watching (but not listening to) a very low budget promo by Lost or Stolen for their upcoming single release. The live video had something in the nature of a shrine about it, with tealights surrounding a plectrum raised upon a dais made of a pencil eraser. From time to time, divine revelation would enter the frame in the form of words written on post-it notes – very much the clay tablets of today’s busy deity! I was expecting some sort of blood sacrifice to propitiate the holy plectrum, with the precious fluid being absorbed by the eraser but, sadly(?), they stopped short of this level of commitment.
During my piano lesson…
…lying underneath the grand piano while it was played by my teacher. It was certainly a new experience, but I’m finding it hard to put the insights I gained into words. It was, I suppose, a logical(?) continuation of the tour of the grand piano I’d enjoyed at my previous lesson – and my first hands-on experience with a grand piano. I have now used all the pedals in purposive manner – and realised late last night that my own piano-substitute has a sustenuto pedal (which I shall be attempting to use later).
…smashing my head, with some force, into the lid of the same grand piano. I had to say Messrs Kawai and Sons need to rethink the design of their pianos – the lid, which is black against a black background – projects some significant distance out from the rest of the case when the keyboard is in use. A chap innocently laughing it some pianistic solecism just committed could (and did) easily injure himself! My piano teacher found himself in the difficult-to-pull-off superposition of laughter and concern: I feel he acquitted himself well given the challenges of macroscopic existence.
At Playlist in the Butcher’s Hook…
…the glorious conjunction of diverse but wonderful music was entirely expected. The unethereal vocals of Stanlæy accompanied by two fae from the Winter Court, extraordinary guitar sounds from Ben Jameson and the first public performance by Somerset folk-collective Zaffir were a reminder of why Playlist is one of the cultural jewels of the city. My unexpected discovery was the existence of microtones in the amazing new piece composed by Ben and commissioned by Playlist. I have tried re-creating these on my acoustic guitar at home, but I may need to get some more tips from Ben for better results.
…the delicious Cambrian Root by Vibrant Forest: a salt liquorice porter. So many of my loves brought together in one tiny space!
Strolling home from the Butcher’s Hook…
…talking to a friend on my phone (I know, shockingly used to speak to another human!) to discover that he had found wholly unanticipated love. The heavy irony of finding, halfway through our conversation about love, that as I strolled twixt the Aldi car park and an industrial diary (well, I don’t reckon it had ever seen a cow) I was unwittingly in the (or of one of the) city’s red-light district(s). So little do I know of gland games, that it was only when the third young (from my perspective) lady said hello and then went slightly further in her salutation did the penny finally drop. Until that point, I had merely thought that people were slightly friendlier than usual and that the lateness of the hour (and our friend Johnny Ethanol) had helped ease their traditional British reserve. Is it any wonder I remain single when even those with a financial incentive in raising my interest in matters of the loins struggle so badly to achieve their goal?
At the launch party of the new NST City theatre…
…being asked if I had a job other than writing my cultural blog. This left me somewhat taken aback, as I hadn’t realised this was a cultural blog (unless the culture in question be me). I was also pleasantly surprised that someone though this farrago might be sufficient to finance my continued existence. I fear it is far too short on insight and far too long on weak jokes, niche references and attempts to demonstrate my (largely illusory) erudition.
…chatting with a chap in want of silver hair. I offered him mine (I have an ever increasing abundance), but in a major failure of the supposed perfection of markets this transaction was impossible to carry through despite two willing parties.
…chatting about going vegan not for the sake of the planet or the animals, but as an economic choice to reduce costs. A fine idea – very much in line with the teachings of Katherine Whitehorn in my youth – but I felt slightly weakened by the need to buy almond milk at much greater cost that its dairy equivalent.
…finding myself thinking, while in the stunning new theatre, that it didn’t feel like I was in Southampton: and then worrying why. Even my photo of the entrance has an air of unreality about it. I feel my thought was not disloyal to my adopted city but a reflection of the fact that I’m used to the city’s older and/or re-purposed venues, few of them much younger than me. There look to be exciting times ahead: I hope their insanely(?) ambitious plans to strengthen and develop a sustainable cultural scene in Southampton, across the full range of culture, bear a bumper harvest of fruit. Roll on (or up/down) the nano winches!
At a Film Week showing of short films…
…being surprised by the nature of the Jane Austen lecture theatre: not a hint of wood panelling or even one over-stuffed leather armchair. Very much a modern university lecture theatre: so, much like a cinema, but with more USB charging points and less comfortable seats. It also lay, rather unexpectedly, in a basement below a spaceship which had become inexplicably trapped in an atrium (or was the atrium built around it?).
…finding myself enjoying a piece by Skepta (it arose in my favourite of the short films). I suspect I may not be his primary target audience, more some unanticipated bycatch: he should probably throw me back to avoid harming the wider ecosystem.
I feel this conceit could be re-used in future to link other disparate observations which the author is too lazy, or unskilled, to draw together into a coherent whole. I think the only lesson we might take from these 1300 odd words is that if you go out and also talk to people, unplanned things happen – and many of these are delightful!