Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Travelling Game

It is true a nomad can flutter a mile here and a mile there, or may even stay an extended period in one place.  Gypsies for instance, often do not travel at all even though they will call themselves travellers.  For them the term will apply to their ancestry and will be a tribute to the ever existent consciously suppressed urge to move onto the next destination.

And for me the comfort of being localised around a particular area has come to an end.  For last week and this week I will be completing the 250 mile trip up to the Pennines.  There, surrounded by majestic hills and wandering sheep, I will connect my tin can of a van into an electric hookup.  And thus for me, once again my home is a different home.  Lacking the creature comforts of a nice caravan I shall commute to a new place of work from my rusty old van to an office located deep into the intestines of that fascinating city of Huddersfield.  I feel an irony within me - to be implementing advanced technology into a city where the Luddites fought viciously against the implementation of milling machinery that would render them bankrupt.  Isn't there always a darker, sinister side to innovation?

I shall enjoy my time in the hills of Yorkshire.  I shall learn about the fine architecture to be found here.  I shall hike the hills and frequent the Inns and befriend the locals.  And if there is some sadness to be once again drifting from place to place following the work, there is also some recognition that this is my life, and this is how my life has been for years and years.

So when you see the new suit in the office.  The man with the temporary visitor's badge hanging around his neck.  The man who documents and implements a project commissioned by your company - instead of ignoring him, or tripping out on your power over the vendor; ask him how far he travelled to do some work for your company, and ask him about his life.  This he will appreciate, being as always, alone in a little known place whose only companionship will be the strangers in the Inn while he orders his evening meal.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Waiting Game

This contract of mine, which was to last me three months, finally came to an end two weeks ago.  In total it had lasted me fourteen months and gave me a financial security blanket as I transitioned to full time nomadic living.  Thus now I was jobless.  Great.  A few weeks to get into the camper and explore some more of this great country of ours.  But it was not to be.  The van was due its MOT and I hadn't thought it would take three weeks to get everything sorted.  For those who live abroad, like most countries here in the UK you will need to check your vehicle in once a year to ensure it meets various safety requirements.  I think this is a very good thing since an unsafe car, ofcourse, is a danger to the driver and also other drivers on the road.  Unfortunately a beam the mechanic called 'Front Cross Member' had to be replaced due to excessive corrosion.  The mechanic invited me in to check it for myself, and indeed, it was falling apart.  The Ford Transit is a fine vehicle, but it does have a reputation for rusting away.

So it was a waiting game and the weather was not very good at all.  Infact it was a drizzle everyday.  My previous manager said he was trying to get a new contract sorted out for me.  And I was waiting for this in a caravan on a very muddy field.  I am not very good at waiting, and so it became a walking game.  Every day I would put my hiking boots on and walk, and walk, and walk, and of course, wait.

How does one cope with unemployment?  Some folks seem to adapt to it very well indeed, and do not seem to mind living in the reduced material world of the benefits recipient.  Week one of this life of leisure was quite enjoyable.  To get up in the morning, and set a direction and simply walk along the road, or the beach, or through the various rambling paths in this area - this was very fine indeed.  To allow the dampness of that office culture to dry out of my being.  Yes it was a fine thing.  And nor was I bothered with money issues since I had taken the wise precaution to save a bit of my salary every week - I simply transfered a percentage into a savings account and there it remained.

But midway through week two and this unemployment game was becoming a bit tiresome - and still I was waiting for the manager to make the call so that I could commence my duties again.  And then a collegue from a previous company I worked for put in a word and I had another offer of work.  This was a five week contract in Yorkshire.  Bonanza.  This is an area I have not explored in any detail.  So now this nomad gets paid to explore a new area.  Hopefully if all goes according to plan, and the paperwork is sorted, then I should be starting next week.  Time to start checking out camp sites.

Peace to All.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Gods in the Nomad

Do you know of a Frenchman called Philippe Petit?  This man is, amongst many things, a funambulist - a tight wire walker.  Fiercely independent from the earliest age this great man spent a childhood learning the arts of climbing, juggling, pickpocketing, magic, horseriding and many other things.  He writes about this in his book - To Reach the Clouds.

Everyone should read this book.  I have read many books indeed, and I can say this must be the most extraordinary book I have ever read.  He writes about a dream whose onset came at a dentist's waiting room.  A magazine and an article about the World Trade Centre.  Then he feigned a sneeze to cloak the sound of a paper tear as he whips the photo of the twin tours out of the magazine.  The start of an extraordinary mission.

It took Philippe six years of planning, trial and error - and then he and his team performed an act of artistic genius, and artistic criminality.  At the start of day on the Seventh of August 1974, when citizens of New York scurried to their place of work, they would look up into the heavens.  And there they had their gift.  This nomad walking through the heavens.

A wire rigged between the two towers of the World Trade Centre.  Two massive columns of steel, granite and glass rising to a height of over 1300 feet, they are now joined by a thin cable masterfully rigged by Philippe and his team.  They used firstly, a bow and arrow to fire fishing line from one tower to the other.  They use the fishing line to pass thicker fishing line, then nylon, then rope which finally brings over the walking wire. What an amazing achievement just to have done this alone.  To have infiltrated the tower's security system that even had a police station on site.  To have worked out how to lug that 450 pound steel cable to the top of the buildings, undetected.  To have cracked the engineering challenge of how to right the wire correctly so it would not snap due to the towers' inbuilt swaying motions in the wind but also be taught enough to hold the man crossing the wire.  All this alone is incredible.

And then the artist performs his show for the crowds of New York, unaided by any safety devices whatsoever and balanced by the beam in his hands and the gods in his feet.

For fourty five minutes Philippe, half bird, half man, bought New York to a stand still with the ultimate high tight walk performance.  As he himself writes

"Victorious, I linger at the very middle of the crossing, exactly where the void, now defeated, used to vent its might.
I even sit down and survey the scene.
I rejoice at witnessing the disorder created by the announcement of my aerial escapade.  The anthill is in turmoil!! Voices and sirens scream orders and counterorders on the roofs and in the streets, but I hear mostly the streets, where the voice of the crowd overcomes that of the emergency units."