I waste much time gaping and wondering…




“I waste much time gaping and wondering. During a walk or in a book or in the middle of an embrace, suddenly I awake to a stark amazement at everything. The bare fact of existence paralyses me- holds my mind in mortmain. To be alive is so incredible that all I do is to lie still and merely breathe- like an infant on its back in a cot. It is impossible to be interested in anything in particular while overhead the sun shines or underneath my feet grows a single blade of grass.” ― W.N.P. Barbellion



On any given day I will experience a myriad of thoughts, fluctuations of feeling, shifting moods and sensory moments, indefinable sensations. They all move through me as abstract waters, flowing in and out, and I move with them taking breaths to preserve myself from drowning.

Sometimes one of these will hold my attention.


“Suppose a man with the swiftness of light touring through the darkness and cold of this great universe. He would pass through innumerable solar systems and discover plenty of pellets (like this earth, each surging with waves of struggling life, like worms in carrion). And he would tour onwards like this for ever and ever. There would be no end to it, and always he would be discovering more hot suns, more cold and blasted moons, and more pellets, and each pellet would be in an internal fatuous dance of revolutions, the life on it blind and ignorant of all other life outside its own atmosphere.” ― W.N.P. Barbellion


But these days my focus is at its least focused.

I am being driven to distraction.

In my study is a fireplace, and every Spring into Summer flies find their way down the chimney into the room to buzz around in a frantic attempt to get out. Dear flies, why endeavour so hard to get in if once in you immediately want to get out, it seems to be an illogical thing to do. The mouth of the fireplace acts like a pez dispenser, every ten minutes or so… as soon as I’ve dispensed in my own way with one of these distracting annoyances which are impossible to ignore and have almost managed to return to some semblance of concentration… almost like clockwork waiting for me to relax and try to refocus on that which I am trying to do, another fly comes shooting out and once more unto the breach of human versus fly I go.

I can hear one right now making its journey down the chimney and soon it will be upon me.

There are times when I find nature very problematic. Not just the nature of these particular chimney-loving flies, or the nature of the weather today which is oppressively ponderous like a headache waiting for the aspirin of a thunderstorm to break the overcast spell which seems to make flies particularly pesky, but my own nature. Yet in the same manner that I find it to be a nuisance, I also find it soothing.


“I am the scientific investigator of myself, and if the published researches bring me into notice, I am not averse from it, though interest in my work comes first.” ― W.N.P. Barbellion


The hummingbird hawk moth in the photo was one of those moments when nature in insect form and my own nature conspired to soothe and inspire.

I was sitting on the back step of my house staring slightly unseeingly into the distant nowhere, mulling over heavy thoughts, feeling crushed by the weight of them, unable to solve whatever puzzle they were posing and unsure whether I cared if it was solved or not. A sudden movement in the air caught my eye. It was different from the brown butterfly clan who were chasing each other in spirals. Different from the bumble bees busy gathering pollen. Different from the small birds darting from bush to bush. It was hovering.

Focusing my eyes upon what at first looked more like a blur I recognised a rarity. All other concerns were banished from my mind. My being leaped into action intent on capturing this rare sight in my garden with my camera. Most of my attempts were appalling and comical, and of course asking the moth to stop so I could capture it was futile. But the moment was magic, and I caught it… it caught me.


“I ask myself, “What is the secret of the universe?” and I am staggered to find that I do not know. What an amazing thing it is that no one knows.” ― W.N.P. Barbellion


My nature is such that I can switch from utter dejection to elation in the blink of an eye. From grumpy to silly. From angry to happy. From ruffled to smooth. And vice versa. The switches are very conscious, yet small and at times imperceptible. Like the movement of hovering wings. And I move from thing to thing like a hummingbird hawk moth. My focus is flighty, hovering hither and thither, but when it is focused, it does it with a hawk eye. Or something like that.

It is at time the bane of my existence, and at times it is a boon, a blessing in disguise of a curse of sorts.

Such is life, such is nature.


“What a solemn lunatic the world is.” ― W.N.P. Barbellion