“… the Gagrakackan ‘tzjin-anthony-ks’, which kill cows at a hundred paces…”

Gin (and its lethal potential) is a recurring motif in the writing of Douglas Adams.

This was the level of gin hangover I had last Saturday. Gagrakackan. It waited until about 10.30 then settled in, like a deceased bovine atop my skull.

It wasn’t an “enough’s enough” moment, particularly. I’ve had a lot of them and I know they don’t really mean anything. I kind of knew it was coming, though, and that it was a necessary precursor to a cheerio. Me and tzjin-anthony-ks. And all the other spellings and all the other variants.

This series of top-ups in the Mortal Bath is going to be about all that.

Originally I was going to write something about luck, this being Friday the 13th and all.

I’m a moderate believer in luck, I think.

There are – as far as I understand these things – statistical likelihoods of things happening or not, so in one sense is “good luck” simply another term for a favourable outcome happening? One’s perspective is important. To say that someone is “born lucky” or “under a lucky sign”, to assign predestination to such outcomes, makes some people a bit chary. I’m reminded of that quote attributed to various golfers:

The more I practice, the luckier I get.

Working on lowering the odds of good things happening. To an extent, you can indeed – indubitably – “make your own luck”.

But, but… I play Backgammon. While I am aware that the Backgammon odds of certain dice combinations are fixed (30% chance of rolling a particular number, nearly 6% chance of a particular non-double combination)… I have also played Backgammon repeatedly with my mum, and there are no two ways about it, she is a Dice Whisperer.

Needs 5-1 to hit a spot and make a prime… Oh, lookit that. (Then rolls eight doubles to finish.) Worryingly, this skill seems to have been passed down to her granddaughter.

Knowing what to do with the doubles is practice, but getting them when you need them is something else, perhaps.

Then, after I’d been mulling over all this, it was then suggested to me that I could make the L post a reference to one of my favourite bits from one of my favourite films, Dazed and Confused, specifically Wooderson’s motivational speech to Randall Floyd, havering over whether to “play ball” or no.

Man, it’s the same bullshit they tried to pull in my day. If it ain’t that piece of paper, there’s some other choice they’re gonna try and make for you. You gotta do what Randall Pink Floyd wants to do, man. And let me tell you this: the older you do get, the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin’ man. L-I-V-I-N.

Matthew McConaughey in fine form, there. I went for the low-res version of the many versions because that’s how I recall watching it REPEATEDLY on tape in the 90s.

L-i-v-i-n… It’s “just” a little stoner joke in some ways, but like everything in the film it has a few layers going on. Researching this today took me through various McConaughey clips and stories. The phrase resonates with him for obvious reasons, and some perhaps less obvious. I dig it. It’s a call for authenticity, perhaps, foremost.

To link (later) to my original theme, perhaps one aspect of what might be termed the Tao of Wooderson (lol) is a notion that participation is an essential component of creating your “luck”. Showing up, maintaining, remaining true to your inner visions… however you want to phrase it.

I’m aware, sure, that there is a certain triteness to sports motivational-sounding trueisms such as “you’ve got to be in it to win it”. That doesn’t stop them being relevant, I don’t think. There are all sorts of other factors involved. I am not suggesting a naïve and blindly optimistic approach to life. You need to remember your Buddhanature AND your National Insurance number, as Ram Dass almost put it.

But, one needs to keep going at it. Even, perhaps especially, when it seems you’re on a losing streak. Those come and go, a matter of perspective, and numbers… but, increasingly, I’m a strong believer in livin’.

Cheers for the suggestion, JCG!

Summer holidays having receded, a new year begun in the day job of teachery, the time comes to recommence Word Pressing.

I took what was going to be a couple of weeks off earlier, after a busy first half of the year. Now it’s been a couple and a bit months off writing. Well, I’ve still been writing, just not for this. Having begun the year aiming to write a post a day for January, then getting pretty much to June, I started to feel in a bit of a rut.

It was often enjoyable, but more frequently a chore. The main issue was that conversation I was having with myself more and more. ‘Hey, I’m posting something every day!’ ‘Yeah, but what are you saying?

When you’re having second person dialogue with yourself about something, it’s interval time.

Things occurring instead: 

  • kept a diary, stopped having an eye on speaking to the world and gave myself time and permission to consider things in more depth
  • revisited some key texts
  • dug the garden
  • a lot of colouring in

More on all that to follow. Now it’s time to press publish and set it all off again…