Day 42

02.02.14

(00.42)
 
So here it is: the day with my number on it.
 
That number (42) truly follows me around: invariably when I look at the time, it’s 42 minutes past the hour; when I think to check the battery level on my phone, it’s usually at 42% (I currently have 42 unread emails on there too). The “friend” who entered me into this whole process lives at number 42. Now that I’m back in tonbridge, my occasional journeys to London take 42 minutes. When I buy my regular supply of tobacco and rolling papers, it comes to £4.58 (42p change from a fiver). My life started (and ended) when I was aged 42. My shoe size is 42. My best mate has an undefeated record of 42 fights in a cage. And the article I’m reading in this week’s New Scientist is on page 42. You get the idea.
 
The answer to Life, The Universe and Everything: the problem is knowing what the question is: thanks Douglas.
 
Articles in New Scientist this week cover stem cells, hybrid humans, energy teleportation (how to make a quantum leap across the universe) and mind meld (the power of collective thinking): engrossing reads as always.
 
Life of Pi continues to enthrall and I’m approaching the end. It’s taking so long to read as I can only fit it in between work projects: writing, reading, researching, learning, web-building, marketing…
 
I’m also having fun compiling crosswords again, each of which include my trademark pun or play on words in the initial across clues:
 
1. In favour of or not in (3)
2. Eat prepared meal (3)
3. Destined for nowhere as well (3)
 
(Answer at the end.)
 
I still prefer where I am personally now (if not physically) to most lives I’ve left or been asked to leave. I would rather be back in Sidcup with my ex-fiance and all of our stuff, less so with my ex-girlfriend. I’d rather be where I am though than with my ex-parents; effectively in prison. Out here I have relative freedom. (We call it “on the road”, not “on the street”.)
 
Although I have little means of cooking (something all of my former hosts said they’d miss), I do remain creative with what I can lay my hands on. Tonight we’d procured tinned corned beef, tinned potatoes and Scotch eggs. Some seasoning and sauce from my friends at McDonald’s and I was able to rustle up a corned beef hash / salad hybrid: corned beef, potatoes and eggs with a sausage meat and bread crumb crust. It fed a few of us and there’s some left over for brunch tomorrow: for tea too (the answer).

 
That’s me in the corner
 
I hate Sundays: no CRI and and no library. It gave me the chance to finish off an ongoing project though: my “office”. Using the term in its broadest possible sense, my office is a corner of Gilbert Arse, where I’ve set up a table as a writing desk. The office chair which served as a step into the arse is now under my arse, whereupon I sit and write at my desk.
 
In front of me, from left to right: a stack of scrap paper in the form of letterheads from the former commercial occupants of the building; A pen pot, in the form of a mug I found in what used to be the kitchen. It’s got a tiger on it, so it reminds me of Life of Pi; Candles, so that I may work at night. These are positioned in front of a mirror, propped up at the back of the desk. The mirror increases the luminouscity of the candles and allows me to look at myself. Right now, in my hat, coat and scarf, a candle burning and with pen in hand, I look quite Parisienne. Then there’s a coffee cup from the ex-kitchen and my travel mug: both make it look like I’ve been busy. Then a wine bottle and a glass tumbler, which serve as candle-holder and desk debris pot respectively but add to the french, artisan feel.
 
Also at the back of the desk is a metal board. I found a magnet and have attached notes to the board.
 
Then there’s my rear-view mirror, found in a cupboard in Gilbert Arse. It’s a self-adhesive job and it’s stuck to my desk panel, so that I have a view of the front door to my rear in case of visitors.
 
I found an ashtray in the ex-kitchen, so that’s on the desk too. then I’ve fashioned a side table from old paint pots, whereupon a number of books currently reside.
 
Then on the wall to the right of where I sit are a couple of protruding screws, from which I’ve hung Bulldog clips I found and hanging from those are some notes I’ve written.
 
The whole corner is finished off by the old Gilbert House sign, which was sitting in another corner and which I’ve now affixed to the wall.
 
Welcome to Gilbert House Publishing head office. Put another way, this is Gilbert House Publishing head office and you’re welcome to it.
 
Among the many notes I’ve collected in the journal from people I meet, the latest was this from a young lady called coral, in the waiting room at Tonbridge station:
 
“Dear Steve,
 
I just thought I’d tell you that you are an amazing man.”
 
This was prompted only by Coral enquiring of my situation and reading parts of the journal.
 
I was with a couple of mates who are in the same situation as I am and Coral was genuinely interested in us. As she departed for her train, she said that we’re admirable (admire but don’t aspire my dear), resilient, resourceful and insightful: her words. As usual, I didn’t offer up my situation until prompted. I just sat in my usual place, reading, writing and keeping myself to myself.
 
Similarly in McDonald’s (where I got a free coffee thanks to my mate Max collecting stickers for me). Last night a member of staff I’d not met before was cleaning the area where I usually reside. I asked if I should move (everyone else had been asked to) but was told to stay put if I wished as another member of staff had said that I was okay and a bit of a regular (feature). That would be Max.
 
That’s me in the corner.

 
The Candle Still Burns
 
(16.42: really)
 
I’m sitting at my desk, the daylight is fading outside but I’m writing by candle light, or rather mini bonfire.
 
Tips for the homeless (let’s assume no.42): matches are cheap and can be used as candle wicks. Night lights / tea lights and most other candles burn down through the middle and leave an outer shell of un-burned wax but the wick is gone. This is where the matches come in: light one, place it in the centre of the candle and it will melt and soak up the remaining wax, acting as a wick.
 
For added heat and light, there’s the mini brazier which I’m patenting: crush up a load of un-burned wax / un-used candles, cut the bottom off of an empty drinks can and place the wax inside. Make a wick using a match, some paper or cardboard, set it alight and place it in the tin bottom with the wax. The wax will burn for hours and provide heat and light. To extinguish the mini brazier, starve it of oxygen by placing something over it. DO NOT try to blow it out: that’s liquid wax and it will blow back at you. I got a Napalm face mask just last night and it hurts.
 
I don’t remember the last time I was so glad to receive a phone call as when I got the one I did today: lots discussed and I’m glad we did.
 
Take care my little friend: the candle still burns. 

The Taste of my Tears
 
(18.42)
 
I left the “office” when the light faded (Gilbert House Publishing head office is a class joint), so I’m continuing to work (write) in Mcdonald’s over a coffee.
 
I got talking to someone with kids about kids and the waterworks started again. Every day that I don’t see my children makes it harder to bear. I only miss them when I’m breathing.
 
My kids like to play outside, even when it’s raining.
 
42, or specifically day 42 takes on extra significance as it’s a rare day lately without rain; a day when I can’t hide my tears; when I can’t kiss the rain.

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