A Week of Rain is Forecast

Starting off Sunday next week, I plan to walk the West Highland Way, a well signposted trail from just north of Glasgow, Milngavie to the Highlands of Scotland, Fort William.

I tried to walk this trail about 8 years ago but failed at the mid point due to sickness. So this time, I plan to complete it by any means necessary. If that means someone else carries my bag with camping gear from one stop to the next then so be it. I’m not too proud to accept help.

But I’ve just checked the weather for next week. And apart from a sun shine sign on Sunday, the rest of the week is 50-60% rain each day. Every day until the following weekend.

Now I could let this put a dampener on the whole walk, pun intended. Or I could just carry on as I have been carrying on, full of excitement with a genuine positive mindset to complete the miles but to enjoy the process.

I’m going into this week of walking, shortest day 10 miles – longest day 21 miles, coming off the back of some good learning experiences which I want to bring to bear in this next challenge.

The first is my 100 days of practice to complete my commission for the BALTIC Hinterlands exhibition due to go live 22 October. I didn’t allow myself to get too far into my head, stress and worry about what I was creating. Instead, I really enjoyed the process of showing up each day and seeing what came out of it. I totally enjoyed the process and had fun.

The second is my recent completion of the Great North Run. I went into this event off the back of very little training and with the simple mission of completing the 13.1 miles by any means necessary. But I didn’t look upon it as something I had to get through, grin and bear it. No. I went into this endurance event with a healthy positive mental attitude. I wanted to enjoy the day. Get around with a smile on my face, really soaking up the atmosphere of the day.

These two learning experiences I will bring to my West Highland Way challenge. So it says it’s going to be rain for the whole week. I’m going to get wet. I’ll expect to get wet. No surprises then. So the flip side is when I see the sun, or glimpse a patch of blue sky, I’m going to feel gratitude and it’s going to put a spring in my step.

I’m prepared for the rain but if I get sunshine I’ll take it with a smile. I’m not going to cancel this trip I’ve been planning for months because of a spot of wetness. I’m going to get wet as I plan to get into the lochs along the way. I’m planning to take each mile as it comes and enjoy the journey. Rain or shine. I’m doing it.

Yes I’ll get wet. Yes I’ll be cold. Yes I might not dry out all week. But I’ll be out in the Scottish landscape soaking it all up.

Would I like more sunshine? Of course I would. Would I like to be stuck inside, head buried into a computer screen working for the man? Hell no. Give me a week of walking in the rain from the Lowlands to the Highlands of Scotland and I will gladly take it with a smile on my face.

When I took up a door to door sales jobwhile at University in London for extra cash, rain was sold to us sale reps. as “liquid sunshine”. I’m going to remember that as I trek through the miles.

Tune in and see how I get on next week.

Fear to Fury

James Baldwin when interviewed after the SNCC Freedom Day demonstration in Selma, Alabama, October 1963 described what he saw there.

When was asked if he was afraid in the moment when the police were moving in on the African Americans waiting patiently to vote with guns and clubs and cattle prodders, Baldwin replied,

“ The thing is you get – you’re so scared – I was scared in the morning. Before it all began. And I was scared the first time I walked around there. But, later on, I wasn’t scared at all … Your fear is swallowed up by, you know … fury. What you really want to do is kill all those people.”*

* Quoted in Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America And It’s Urgent Lessons For Our Own, by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

“The helmets were, you know, like a garden. So many colours.” James Baldwin *

Let’s Go Outside

Visual journaling 04/05

At the moment, I’m using an altered (romance) book as my visual journal. I go with my moods when it comes to deciding what to use next for my visual journal. I listen to my gut and what she’s calling for in terms of size, shape, texture of page, of journal she needs in order to show up daily for the next month or so.

So with an altered book as my journal I was calling for space to explore colours but also layering, composition and found text.

There will be pages that are heavy with colour and my handwriting while others I’ll crave colour with space and some text cut ups applied.

I’m using Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye at the moment to create found poetry for double page spreads. The Bluest Eye was the first book I read in which I found someone who looked like me and who felt the same self-hate I was experiencing around growing up in a predominately white society being within a Black body. It was revolutionary for me and my personal development to find this book when I did.

I suppose using a copy of the book now to cut up and repurpose is saying something about how I’m feeling at the moment and how I want to see myself on the page. How I want to take back the space, take up space and be validated. But on my own terms.

I love how powerful visual journaling is to my psyche and how I move my body through this world but does so through such a simple process. It never ceases to amaze me what comes to light and fruition through this practice.

Under the Pink Moon, The Procession Thrums with Memories of Blossom

The Procession, 2022, Hew Locke

After Hew Locke. After Taylor Johnson

My father would say so much with his eyes and hands. Sitting up in his burgundy armchair like a thorn. He would dress in waistcoat and trilby to walk up the road to the bookies on blossom warm afternoons. And when he was gone, I waited in his shadow for his sing-song step to return up the stairs. And when he didn’t return, I sat there lost like our place in history and the world.

Something was wrong when I left the country. Heart tight, sorrow crawling through the blood. Leaving meant joining an age-old tradition, down dusty roads at the crack of dawn. Humid bodies, sweat mingling fear, ebb and flow red blue and green paints. Thrumming bass behind the truck. Before us, lined streets, roped between black and white bodies. We whine to claim space.

I love the freedom assembled lines give. Celebrate, protest, mourn, and escape: The Procession. My father who packed away home in his grip on arrival; was Roberta Flack who set off a smile. I was left to shift between the gap and practice owning something around blackness. I had a feeling I would never be enough. There are times of melting, with the turn of a record, under a pink moon, when there is so much beauty to live, when I recount memories of love tucked inside.

running free

Climbing trees, juicy mangoes

pliant flesh and ashy elbows

to be running free through the long grass

and burrs sticking to legs, gaze widening

no thought for shiny brown skin

causing hate, no thought for others

just green

Englishness

white starched lace dress

sweat between breasts

so out of place it’s painful

at one time, just exotic plants

traced on paper, here

they touch their wide glossiness

English paleskins

burning red

intruders but still

the belief of ownership

I learn to watch, watch and learn,

to stay safe, to stay alive

I know them better than themselves

and yet I’m the primitive one,

the spicy savage

a transaction in their day.

Compassion for all parties involved

In a gondola steered by a bunny with pink
ears and white feathered wings, I rest.

Serene and floating upon a turquoise body of water,
I keep my eyes closed, keeping out the light,

keeping out thoughts of failure.
Let me just drift into the unknown

where there may be green shoots to suck
and damp grass to tinkle my toes.

Who knows, what’s around the bend.
All I know; I’m wearing my favourite bow,

my rubber giraffe is sinking like a ship
along with my rocking horse of dreams.

Fear on the Playroom Floor

An oversized, blue fluffy bunny
is the things of nightmares.
Garish, stalks the playroom floor.

I hide behind the enlarged
building blocks, hands over ears and heart
busting my chest. Afraid

the bunny will hear me, find me
and beat me. Beat me for being me.
I didn’t do anything wrong.

I fear this fear. Not knowing
where the next blow from the taloned
paw is coming from and why.

Not knowing if my existence
is an affront or punishable offence.
I dream of other floors

with soft cushioned landings
blankets and warmth, like
under autumn leaves breathing orange.