Monday, January 17, 2005

My fridge loves me

When you fall in love you are always wanting to be with the one you love. Always phoning them, writing letters, making any excuse to meet them for a date. Now that I have mended our fridge I have fallen in love with it.

When I open the fridge door a little light pops on and smiles hello. Sometimes I open the door and listen to the coolent course through the back plate. If it has switched itself off and is silent I check the thermometer and if it is at 6 degrees everything is cool, no problems.

I have given it lots of presents, well food really. Moved all the stuff I had out on the balcony into its cool belly. At night I have got up to see if it was OK. The condenser has purred at me and thanked me for stocking the shelves with food. It remarked that it had to work hard when the shelves were empty, but now that they are full things have stabilised.

It is excellent that things are back to normal.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Is moving good for you. Not really it gives you alot of stress and headache. Packing, unpacking, finding new places to stay. You start off with your family, and your mum and dad looks after you, but you might get shunted around a few times from grandmothers to great aunts if there happens to be a tragedy in the family. So the early years go like this.

Bankend Ayrshire Scotland: Rooms with Rab Wright
Glebe Street New Cumnock Ayrshire Scotland: Upstairs house (Mother and Father)
Castlemains Ave Ayrshire Scotland: Granny's house.
Glebe Street New Cumnock Ayrshire Scotland Upstairs house (Father)
Green Braes Road Ayrshire Scotland Great Aunt Marg
Glebe Street New Cumnock Ayrshire Scotland Upstairs house (Father)

You step out of the home and are on your own for the first time when you go to university, and you live the life of a tramp with no roots. It is the nomadic life as Bruce Chatwin puts it. One day you look out of the window and see a bird soaring in the blue sky, and you imediately decide to go walkabout, and like the aborigine who strips himself of all his clothes and walks naked into the desert, you leave the soot and chill of Scotland behind and head for the continent. You work where you can, and sleep in any available bed. The work and the accomodation change with the seasons. Slipping in and out of society. When you leave society behind you have to lie about where you are escaping to, and when you return to society you have to lie about where you have been. Telling lies is not good for you. And from a teenager to a young man it went like this.

Baird Hall of Residence: Sauchihall street Glasgow Scotland (Greece)
Bognor Regis Hants: Summer working at Butlins
Baird Hall of Residence: Sauchihall street Glasgow Scotland ( Morrocco )
Minehead Sommerset: Summer working at Butlins
Rochester Kent: Accounts dept for county council. (Russia)
Neasden London NW10: Macvities and Price biscuit factory on the night shift to buy a boat.
The Grange Leatherhead Surrey : Ronsons lighter factory. (India)

Living to please youself would seem to be the best you can do, but the sun becomes too hot and the body is sick of the heat. India is the last great escape, but a broken landrover and a broken relationship sends me to the cold north of Scandinavia.

William Morris had gone to Iceland to mend his broken heart. I would go to Finland, and become a christian. Mystical monastic life for me. I devour the Spiritual life by Watchman Nee. I sell bibles door to door in Italy for food. I do it all with a sheet of A4 paper with Italian phrases on it.

I then work in an old folks home and see demented old women put their petticoats on top of their dresses. I lift them out of their urine soaked beds. I dress their bed sores. I put their false teeth in their mouths. I listen to the coherent ones tell me that their son will be coming this weekend to take them home. Every week they tell me this story and every weekend the son fails to turn up. Hope springs eternal in the human breast. I lift those who have fallen out of bed and lie dead on the cold cold floor. My son is born, and I begin my life of working for nothing. Five years of not earing a penny, and living never the less.

Koski HL Jokelan Kartano Finland: Odd jobs
Italy, Pisa, Milan, Reggio Emilia: OM
Hammelton Road, Bromley Kent: STL
West Wickham, Kent: STL
Tweedy Road, Bromley Kent: STL
The Elders Ewell Surrey: Old folks home

The stink coming from the mycelium clings to your clothes and hair. You could go into the local library in Hanko and the librarian would sniff you and casually remark "So you work at Fermion do you?" I wonder how many people can have their exact jobs pinpointed from the way they smell? Viikki saw the brith of Riina and Raisa. Kontula saw the birth of Patrik and Ilona.

I was the crazy christian who was so ignorant that I knew nothing about birth control. Intelligence was stamped apon you if you had 1.4 children. To have 5 ment you were a bit loose in the head. Take 5 children on public transport and you will be looked at. I graduated as a microbiologist. Studied, worked, and took care of 5 kids. We survived, and it was not hard.

Then came kick-ass radical christianity with an emphisis on prayer and worship. The Welsh revivalist were left coughing in the smoke of our songs, the shape note singers from Boston in their singing squares were swept away in a barrage of power chords. Charles Wesley was tossed aside and replaced by Kevin Prosch. We were a flaming arrow shot from the bow of a righteous God. It ended very badly.

But I had become a bioinformatician. Not only was it a new word that nobody could spell, apparently the world was clamouring for people who knew something about bioinformatics. I applied to work at the newly founded European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge UK . These were the years of study and work study and work study and work.

Gentoftenkatu Hanko Finland: Fermion ( Penicillin factory )
Latokartano Viikkki Finland: Helsinki University
Ostostie Kontula Finland: Helsinki University
Stenbackantie Kauklahti Finland: CSC
Åminnenranta Kauklahti Finland: CSC
Krämertintie Metsälä Finland: CSC

The summer was hot. I let Raisa trim my hair and she having punkish tendencies decided to put a couple of go faster speed strips down the side of my head. It looked a mess so I told her to shave my head completely. However I had a 10 year growth of Raspuitin beard which did not look quite right with a bald head, so I instructed her to swipe it off as well. I did not recognise myself with this clean cut look, and neither did anybody else.

It was then that I was called to the UK for an interview for a job at EBI. I knew a few of the people on the interview panel, but when I entered the interview room in my new defoliated form they had a hard time recognising me. To make matters worse one of the interviewers had a similar bald pate. Everytime I looked across the table it was like looking in a mirror. The rhyme Humpty Dumpty kept running through my head, and instead of answering questions I am thinking about Tweddle Dum and Tweedle Dee from Alice in Wonderland. The interview was surreal and the strange laughter that was bubbling inside me threated to explode in the faces of the panel.

I got the job because I said I was a bioinformatician. Children get married and leave home.

Beck Road Saffron Walden Essex England: EBI
Johnsons house Johnsone yard Saffron Walden Essex: EBI
Cromwell Road Saffron Walden Essex; EBI
Castle Cross Saffron Walden Essex: EBI
EspoonLahti Finland: CSC

Ten years on and I am back in Finland. All of the children are on their own, and everyone of them are beginning to make their own moves. Some are settled some are on the move.

Bruce Chatwin said in Songlines that we are all decended from Nomads and to be on the move has a secret place in our hearts. Personally I have thought that God has tied me down when I wanted to go, and kicked me in the arse when I wanted to stay. I feel a bit like Abraham.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

That is precisely what I have done, and it has taken me 30 moves, and I am wondering what my inheritance might be.

Friday, January 14, 2005

A little bit of history repeating

The fridge is on the blink. It will run for hours and never switch itself off, unless you fiddle with the controls and then it does switch itself off but never comes back on again. The only way to get it going again is to pull the plug, let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes and then plug it in again. Then it runs like a maniac huskey out in the frost heading for home. Thermostat problem everybody says. I believe them.

But what does a thermostat look like and is it easy to replace. I imagine it to be a little gadget that you unplug from a socket, buy a new one, plug it in, and bob's your uncle. Sorted.

I haul the fridge out from the wall and look around for something electrical and I see a small black box attached to the compressor. I remove springs and clips and the cover and it reveals a something with lots of wires atached to it. Electrical must be the thermostat. I take a photo of it, so I can show the man at the spare parts department the type of thermostat I want. It is made by Danfoss. IT looks like this.

I drive to the shop and show the man my photo and he says that it is NOT a thermostat. I feel such a fool, but I ask him where the thermostat would be then and he says connected to the temperature control knob which is at the top of the fridge. Gritting my teeth I buy a general purpose thermostat that should do for all fridges. It is a little metal thing with a long wire coming off it. That wire has to be threaded somehow inside the fridge so it picks up the temperature and controls it.

I get home have a meal and then get down to the job of replacing the thermostat. Rip off the facia. Unscrew bolts and nuts. Unexpectedly little springs and washers were pinging everywhere. Flying so fast out of the electrical guts that I had no idea where they were coming from. Plod on. Soon the front and back of the fridge looked like it had taken a severe hit with a rocket propelled grenade, and after much rattling, clipping, twisting and snipping I extracted the thermostat. If you are wondering what a fridge thermostat looks like then the old one looks like this.

That long wire has to be delicately threaded through the polystyrene insulation and fixed to the back plate of the cooling unit inside the fridge, in a place that is so hidden and obscure, that it could be wearing a cloak of invisibility, or impersonating an essential part in a stealth bomber. Even the nimblest fingers of the fastest weaver would have difficulty attaching it to where it should go.

It took me 2 hours to dismantle everything and put it all back together again. Most of the time was looking at how things were joined together, and discovering after much effort that they were not supposed to be taken apart. At the end of the operation I only had two little nuts left on the table. I did not know where to put them, and half heartedly wished I had a young innocent child on hand who would have mistaken them for sweets and eaten them.

It was then I had the flashback to the washing machine incident. Would the fridge work, or was I looking at giving myself a hernia carrying it to the dumpster. I swicthed it on. It purred into life. There was no sparks or blue electrical flashes. It was working. It ran for an hour, the temperature droped, the thermostat kicked in and it switched the compressor off. James Brown said it best. I feel good.

Washing machine nightmare

Head Junk
Originally uploaded by Drift Words.
Many years ago when my kids were still small our washing machine broke down and I decided to mend it in the living room. The fault was not electrical but mechanical. The big aluminium wheel that spun the drum was broken. To get that thing off required the removal of nut and bolts, springs and washers, and four precision bearings.

I laid everything out on clean newspaper on the floor. Everything in its place so I could put it all back together again. It was then that my young son decided that the small screws and the lovely small washers were in actual fact sweets and began to pick them up and put them in his mouth. There is no reasoning with a boy who is nearly two years old. I was torn between dismantling the washing machine, and preventing my son from choking on a delicious looking gudgeon pin.

It was a fortnight before I got everything back together again, and the nightmare memory that I still have is putting one set of bearings on the hot plate for them to expand and another set of bearings soaked in olive oil in the fridge to contract. Precision bearings are so precise that you have to trick them with hot and cold and oil to get them to fit together. I was a desperate man using desperate measures. A rubber mallet to tap them in place would also have been handy, but I used a good old fashioned Stanley clawheaded hammer to bash the buggers together.

After much pain, sweat, and effort the washing machine was back together again, though there were a few bolts and springs that I couldn't find a place for so I just left them out. That washing machine never spun again, and I nearly gave myself a hernia trying to carry it to the dumpster.

Monday, January 03, 2005


Uploaded by deVos.
There is a wave on its way for me. None of my prayers can stop it. That is what I thought in bed this morning.

When my wife awoke I told her of a W.H. Audin quote.

Among those whom I like or admire,
I can find no common denominator,
but among those whom I love, I can:
all of them make me laugh.

I must love my son Patrik alot I thought, becasue he makes me laugh.

She said "I don't make you laugh very often these days."

I said "Would you like me to bring you breakfast in bed."

"No I would much prefer it if you stayed close by me."

"Sweet" I thought, and I said, "You know I have trouble spelling sweet. How do you do it?

"S.W.E.A.T." she said spelling it wrong.

"I am always confused by sweet and sweat. How do you spell a sweet that you have eaten?

She spelt it out "G.O.N.E."

And with that the sea became calm.

How to get from here to there?

Originally uploaded by HyperBob.
I am stuck. The tragedy in South East Asia will not go away. I find I think about it every day. I read about it. I write about it.

I find a poem or a song that I think captures the moment, and I write it down. It is as though if I could capture the essence of what has happened, then it would make things easier.

I have discovered that a mere understanding of pain and suffering, does not make it go away. It might even make it worse. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

What are my own heartaches compared to the misery caused by that unforgiving wall of water, that swept so many innocent people into oblivion.

I am warm. I have eaten. I talked to my children today. I have a home. I will sleep in my own bed tonight. There is some sadness in all of our lives, though nothing compared to the devastation that struck the families living on the rim of that monsterous 1000 kilometer earthquake.

Homes washed way. Cold and hungry, loved ones lost. An indiscriminate deluge, that saw tiny Alexander Lindman washed away by the waves.

What am I looking for? The same as what everyone is looking for. A word of hope to lift me up. A kind word to lighten my heart. A caring hand to ease my load.

I want the cold snow in my world to sparkle with beauty, and the warm sand in their world to feel good beneath their feet.

I want to see things differently. I want to get from here to there, and no photo and no word is helping me at the moment.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

I'm falling down

Falling down

Trying to find a place where I can hide away
To the fountain of youth inside my mind
Where old age can never find me.
Please excuse me I’m not doing well today.
Trying so hard to hide the darkness of my soul.
I’m a outworn heart in a time worn out.
I feel like I’m fading, I’m being tossed about.
There is a hole in my trampoline, I’m falling down.

And friendless, near a thousand friends I stand.
Who didn’t have a crumb of comfort, not even a grain.
Who were all to busy with my praise.
The distances of loneliness, how long they seem to me.
The door that is always locked, wants a key
I can hardly even say my prayers, nor can I be
Does that mean that I am fading, does that mean I am weak?
The soul of my suffering, that sucks my childhood pride
Never knew the leaves of healing, have I been left to die.

On God’s rough tumbling ground.
I’m falling down.
On God’s rough tumbling ground.
I’m falling down.

Am I a prophet or a vagabond?
I am a father and not a commandant.
And I grieve for the loss of all the prodigals.
And fatherless near ten thousand fathers I stand.
A broken little boy with a promise in his hand.
Did you see the crown, my mama crowned me with?
And he that made me bitter, also made me wise
Though I wrestled for the blessing
There was no love for me to find.
And the worlds more full of weeping
Than I can ever understand.
I’m in that place again, where the heart gives up its dead.

There is a place where tears fall
and they make no sound
On God’s rough tumbling ground.
I’m falling down.
There is a place where tears fall
and they make no sound
On God’s rough tumbling ground.
I’m falling down.

KP "Tumbling Ground"

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Red Knight of Fear (from Fisher King)

As I Walked Out One Evening
W. H. Auden

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
'Love has no ending.

'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

'I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

'The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

'O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.