Posts by Tom C

23, student of sorts, writer of even lesser sorts.

#4 New Roots

It’s been a month and a half since I moved to Maastricht.

What a month. A hot, lethargic, sweaty, heart-rending, life-affirming few weeks.

This is, it seems, where I belong. In a medieval cobblestoned city, getting merry with folks from all over the world. It reminds me in so many ways of that glorious year in Prague. But then, that’s sort of what I was trying to recreate. So… success?

Maybe. Probably. I don’t know.

Part of coming here meant giving up an incredibly loving, if hideously unstable, relationship. A necessity, but one that still aches.

And suddenly being so far from family is not the best feeling, after being so close by  to them the past few years.

I guess that’s the main thing I ignored when I saddled up all my belongings and fled for the border. That it would, almost inevitably, be really fucking lonely for a while. Not that that’s anything to do with Maastricht. I’ve made some fantastic friends here so far. And spent an absurd amount of time in bars watching football. But they don’t really fill the hole I dug. There’s a fair bit of downtime in this hotel room, which feels like a luxuriously hipster prison cell. And I killed my cellmate.

Metaphorically speaking.

That should soon change though! As of time of writing I’ve put the deposit down on a place to live. It’s a huge attic room perched atop a student house, the kind of place that has that delightful veneer of grime that still doesn’t dampen the energy within. Not that I’ve actually met any of my 6 new (masters students, one and all) housemates, but judging purely by the amount of beer bottles in the garden, I think we’ll get along.

Hopefully I will be in there by the weekend. It had better be soon anyway, I’ve only got 9 days until the hotel gives me the boot.

Let’s see, we’ve covered housing, friends, my emotional state… what else…

The job! For any who are curious, or aren’t in the mood for overly emotional exposition, here’s how it’s gone so far.

Week 1-2: Mostly training in ‘classrooms’ learning about the company. Honestly that was one month ago and I can hardly remember a thing from it. It wasn’t a bad time, we got to know our colleagues and get used to the company. But MAN do they ease you in. Slower than naked genitals into a boiling bath.

That was a weird simile. I like it though, it’s staying in.

(I don’t edit. This is all stream-of-consciousness shit. I just go back and correct typo’s when people point them out.)

Weeks 3-4: More training, but gradually working our way onto computers and starting to figure out all the different system we needed to learn. Ultimately quite useless as the version of Compass (main system used at work) we got in training was aaaaaall fucked up.

I could describe exactly what was wrong with it, but you wouldn’t understand, I’d be bored, and ‘aaaaall fucked up’ is more dramatic. So there.

 

Weeks 4-5: (there was some overlap. this is hardly accurate timekeeping). Then we moved into the AMG room, a sunny little corner where 4 newbies would be sat with 1-2 trainers, gradually figuring out how to do the job. To be honest we could have skipped straight to this step. In a week and a half using the proper systems and making/taking calls from actual customers and suddenly I’m there. I can do the job. Quite well too. Sorted.

Which brings us up to last week, starting proper shifts. Easy. That’s the best word for it. Sure confusing shit pops up quite regularly, but most of the time the job is a doddle. Making what they pay me to do it slightly absurd. But there you.

 

I guess that’s everything then. Jobs going well, should move into a permanent address by the end of the week, keeping fit and having fun. For the most part.

I haven’t posted anything up here since moving, but that has most certainly changed. I’ll probably be putting up several more bits of poetry this week, and maybe even something different. We’ll see how it goes.

Toodles x

Free?

With a sickening squelch I pulled myself free

Letting the remains of that which had engulfed me

Fall heavily    and shatter

Into delicate fragments

Plinking and pattering

Like so many pills strewn across a worktop

I pushed forward

Hardening my heart

Ears straining to hear

The pieces being picked up and slotted back together

Eyes forward. Do not crack.

Do not waver. Don’t turn back.

Do.

Not.

Look.

Back.

 

So of course I do. Of fucking course I do. I have to.

I peer carefully over my shoulder.

And shatter.

 

#3 Maastricht, Mercedes, my god… (life update)

Hello!

It’s been a little while since I posted anything, but for frankly excellent reasons. My life has been flipped turned upside down in the past two weeks, and great changes are underfoot.

I shall endeavour to explain.

As anyone who is unfortunate enough to know me in real life might be aware, I’ve been at something of a loose end for the past year or so. Working a lot of temp jobs, drifting through life with all the energy and direction of a half-eaten jellyfish.

Until a couple of weeks ago. I had been applying for full time jobs for a while, trawling through job sites and sending out endless copies of my CV, with lukewarm responses. Some interviews, nothing coming of them. When up pops a rather interesting little role doing customer service for Mercedes. Seems they’re looking for native English speakers who are willing to relocate to their central customer service hub in the Netherlands.

So I give it a click and send off yet another CV, with my cut-and-paste cover letter. It’s worth a shot, right? Besides, I’d be happy to relocate. The best year of my life so far was when I found myself out in Prague after uni. To be living in a medieval city in central Europe once more…

But honestly, after applying for dozens of jobs and recieving so few responses, let alone interviews, I didn’t hold a great deal of hope. Job hunting is a hope-killer. You’ll find so few perfect sounding jobs, and you can be damn sure those will be the ones that come back with instant rejections. Best to just apply and wait.

Imagine my surprise then, when a mere two days later an email lands in my inbox, with hope shimmering all over it. They like my CV. They want to do a telephone interview. Which goes great. Then they send me a written task. It’s essentially creative writing, way to play to my strengths! They like that too.

All of a sudden I’m being offered an interview/assessment day out with them.

In Maastricht.  The Netherlands.

I fly to Amsterdam. Three trains and three hours later and I’m in Maastricht.

It’s like a weight I didn’t know was on me had suddenly been lifted. For the first time in three years I was back out doing what I loved most, wandering a strange city in Europe, soaking up fancy local beers and medieval architecture.

The assessment day was odd. There were meant to be three of us, but both of the other applicants failed to turn up. Apparently they never checked in the hotel. No warning given. Strange people.   As many group activities were planned, I was treated to a great deal of attention. Whether this worked to my advantage or not I don’t know. But I walk out of there after 6 hours punching the air and feeling like I’d nailed it.

Two days later, the offer came in. I accepted, obviously.

So now here we are. In three weeks I will completely uproot my life, moving out of my family home in Devon, England and settling down in Maastricht, The Netherlands.

It’s all still a bit surreal. Not a dream come true, because one month ago I wouldn’t have dared to dream things would work out so well. Yet here we are.

Now I’m preparing, which doesn’t require a massive amount of effort as Mercedes are sorting out all of the travel and accommodation for me, lovely people that they are. For the time being I’m going through all of my worldly possessions and trying to cut things down to the bare minimum.

Turns out I owned approximately 45 t-shirts. Isn’t that ridiculous? I’d had some since I was 17. Absurd. So now half are in a bag to go to charity. Next is books, a far more difficult challenge. I’m far too much of a hoarder for moving country, but I’ll manage.

 

There you have it. That’s what’s going on with me at the moment. But enough about me, how are you doing?

When I Was Seven

“There is great stupidity in this, or at least minimal imagination, which is more or less the same thing only morally worse.” -Stephen Fry, Moab is My Washpot

When I was seven they sent me away

Away from the country in which I played

Off to a place where my parents would pay

To give me an education

 

I got on the train, rattling and roaring

And perched myself next to a man who was snoring

And sat for two hours, long stiff and boring

Until we arrived at my school

 

Tucked away in a green and pleasant land

Closer to mountains than seaside or sand

Where every day was drawn up, closely planned

And they would teach me to study

 

When I told others they said it was cruel

To send a child to eat bread and gruel

A hundred miles away at a school

How could parents do such a thing?

 

I smiled politely, for they were dumb

To think it cruelty on the part of Mum

Even though I was still sucking my thumb

When really they hadn’t a clue

 

I retorted, “why ever should that be?

To private school went my mum, dad, bro, me,

So punishment would be school primary,

I would wonder what I’d done wrong”

 

But they shook their heads, and tutted at me

That I was damaged and I couldn’t see

Ever so sad is a private school boy

Defending a place that beat him

 

Well yes I was beaten, and rightly so

A terror I was, the whole school would know

Wherever I went trouble would follow

I could hardly complain my lot

 

Though I was naughty, though I was bad

And later my mind couldn’t overcome the sad

For my schooling I can be nothing but glad

To be given an education

 

 

 

 

A note:

Another from my University archives, written sometime in 2011, this is loosely based on some experiences relayed by the legendary Stephen Fry in his first autobiography, Moab is my Washpot. For the longest time I had the audiobook on my iPod, and would listen to it over and over whilst walking the dogs in the summer. Good times.

Blog#2 A brief note on context.

“Il n’y a pas de hors-texte” – Jacques Derrida.

There is nothing outside the text.

I must have used that quote a good half-dozen times in various essays, back in my halcyon days as an English literature undergrad. Put simply, the context matters not, only the text matters.

Personally, I tend to disagree. Whilst it can be far to easy to attach meanings to a piece of writing based on some conceived notion of what one thinks the author will have meant, there can be some value in attempting to understand the where’s and why’s surrounding writing.

The reason I bring this up, is that as I go through my disturbingly bare folders, or even dare to flip back through countless scraps of faded notepaper, cherry-picking the best examples of my writing to post up here, I will often include a note on context at the end.

Generally just a few line on the date it was initially written, and what few details I can still recall on the events inspiring and surrounding it.

Whether or not anyone has any interest in that, I honestly don’t know. It is entirely possible that some people will think this is a bad thing, that poetry should be delivered alone, and the reader left alone to come to their own conclusions. A perfectly valid opinion, though not my own. If that is the case, feel free to ignore the contextual notes.

But for any of you few (though much appreciated) readers of mine who are at all interested in the snippets of biography that will go along with some of my posts, I hope they add something to the experience.

That’s all for now, go about your business.

Dark Walls

Dark walls against the grain

Lonely tables take the strain

Cues bend ‘neath failures pain

And clear spirits take me

 

Slapped backs and kindly words

Barbs blunted, once like swords

Words try cross barren fjords

But veiled punches bruise me

 

Faces I try to control

Lash out with vitriol

No faith, face, lost it all

The mystery confounds me

 

Sunshine and happiness

He sings, takes the piss

Laughing yet hit and miss

Feeling overtakes me

 

Slurred attempts at kissing

Draw sour parents hissing

Don’t know what their missing

When were drowned in vodka

 

 

 

Context

One of the oldest pieces in my archives, this is from 2011 and  is one of the most coherent examples from my “writing poetry on nights out, whilst drunk” phase. This phase covers the latter part of first year, and most of second year of uni, a period involving sheer quantities of alcohol that would render me useless for days now.

blog#1 New Beginnings

That title seems somewhat ironic, seeing as I purchased the domain for this site over six months ago, but that’s procrastination for you.

So here we are. I have just finished setting up this site more or less the way I want it, ready to spew my jumbled collations of words all over the internet. Or those few unfortunate souls who stumble across it.

I thought it right, therefore, to talk about what I actually want to achieve with this website.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. I was the best writer in primary school, and practically lived with my head in a book. To be honest, I feel like I’ve spent most of my life with my head in a book, or with my eyes being slowly dried out by whichever videogame I’m currently obsessing over.

Authors have always held a certain mystique. Those wiley crafters of tales, the mysterious shadowy figures lurking in the ink that has enraptured me since childhood. How I longed to be one of them. To while away my hours in a cosy den, each tap of the keyboard unveiling, like a sculptors chisel, a new world hidden within.

Plus, it sounds like a great way to avoid having a real job. I’m 25 now and I’ve done quite a few different jobs, and none of them have really interested me. I just wanted to write.

The problem is, all too often I don’t. After graduating with a degree in English Literature, and having become the very stereotype of a heavy drinking, drugged up layabout student, I was thrust into teaching, and more or less forgot about writing as a possibility.

There always seemed to be so many other people who were better than me. Younger, smarter people who were already having articles and novels published. I recognise this thinking now as a symptom of the anxiety that has plagued me for many years now.

So much easier to never try, than to put in the effort and risk failure.

After failing teacher training I spent the best part of two years in a smokey haze, drifting through life in no direction. But always with the idea that maybe, somehow, somewhen, I would write again. I even bought this domain, but then did nothing with it for months.

Everything finally fell apart to the point where I got myself cleaned up, and discovered to my delight that I did have a functional brain. Poems started to whizz around my synapses, I’d scribble story synopses on ragged notepaper at work. I could write. I would write. It’s been the only constant in my life, the thing I love, and want to do. Hell I don’t even know if I’m all that good, but I certainly won’t get any better by not doing it.

Which brings us back here. I want to keep writing regularly, it doesn’t matter what. And to get it out there in the public, where people can see it. And maybe, just maybe, if I am excruciatingly lucky, I’ll be able to make something out of it.

But we’ll see. For now I’ll be posting a selection of old writings from the last few years, trying to blog regularly, and just get into the rhythm of being a writer.

It’s been my dream for so long that perhaps I forgot that I’m the only one with the power to take those dreams and make them real.

As the great Albus Dumbledore said,

“It does not do dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

I’m tired of dwelling in my daydreams. Time to live.