How Are You Today?

question mark

The other day a young woman rang me up “on behalf of Yahoo”. Now Yahoo don’t ring people up (nor do Google for that matter) so I am pretty sure that what that little sleight of hand really meant was that she was from an internet marketing firm who wanted to sell me some advertising on Yahoo, something that I could arrange for myself if I wanted, then charge me a fee for it.

However it wasn’t that little bit of dishonesty that really irritated me, it was the fact that she began our conversation with the question: “how are you today?” I have noticed that this is a bit of a trend, mainly among people who are trying to sell me something. No doubt some “marketing guru” once told them that this is a good way to start a conversation, that it creates a feeling of warmth and trust.

Well, no it doesn’t, in me anyway it creates irritation. I assume that the caller expects that I will answer “great, I’m fine”, and we will settle down to a nice cosy chat. In fact I find it an impossible question to answer, because even if I am feeling fine I don’t feel like sharing it with a complete stranger. And supposing I am not fine, supposing that I have just had my leg amputated, or am mourning the loss of my beloved pet swamp dragon? In that case I would be forced to either lie, and say that I am fine when I am not, I am feeling heartbroken; or I would have to tell the truth and pour out my heart to someone who blatantly does not care; who moreover is sufficiently lacking in personal ethics to pretend to be from Yahoo when they are not. Neither of these would be an attractive choice.

As a general rule in life I think that you should only ask how someone is if you actually know them, and you actually care enough to hear an honest answer. To do anything else is presumptuous. All of which I tried to explain to the caller, but she hung up on me.

Two New Paintings: Tulips and Lamplight

I have completed two new paintings recently, of rather different subjects. The first one is called “Tulips”:

TulipsIt is painted in oils, and is based on some tulips I saw growing at the Courts Garden, which is a National Trust property in Holt in Wiltshire. I think that it is not entirely satisfactory as a composition, however I am please that I did manage to make the tulips stand out quite well, which was the main point of the painting.

The second painting is called “Lamplight”:-

LamplightIt is painted in acrylics. I tried out the effect of painting the canvas background black beforehand – I think it worked quite well for the subject matter.

I spent some time thinking about whether the human figure should be walking into the light, or away from it, eventually I decided that I wanted his face to be in shadow, so painted him walking away, into the darkness.



I had a sudden urge to go camping recently, which I did, in the Forest of Dean. It has been a few years since I slept in a tent, I had forgotten how uncomfortable it is sleeping on the ground. Also it was a very cold night, I was not imagining it, when I got up in the morning there was actually a slight frost on the ground – this is July!

The result was that I got very little sleep, by the next morning I was so exhausted that I felt quite ill, and decided to go back home. I think that you can gather that I am not a natural outdoors-woman, I am not a female Ray Mears. So it was a short trip. It was a pity, apart from the terrible lack of sleep I did actually enjoy the camping. I do like the simplicity of it, the way it brings life back to basics. The Forest of Dean is magnificent – even though some bits are quite touristy, the forest is so big that it is easy to just walk away from them.

I was hoping to see some wild boar. I didn’t – but I definitely heard them during my long sleepless night. At first I had no idea what it was, I heard some weird snuffling sounds, then scampering, and what was unmistakably the grunt of a pig. They must have been only a couple of metres away from my tent.

I will go camping again some day, but not before I have got myself an air bed.


I have been uploading some of my old recordings to Soundcloud

They are mostly of me improvising on the flute.

Generally they sound better than I remember. It is almost impossible to be objective about one’s own creative endeavors – I find that I tend to hear and focus on every little mistake, without hearing what is good about it. The passage of time makes it a little easier, because my imperfect memory makes it possible to be surprised.