Archive for the ‘Personal Interest & Experience’ Category

…some Englishman gives up chess to concentrate upon academia. During a summer break, he goes on holiday to Hollywood where every night is party night. There, he dates an academic but when he sees chess played on a street, becomes distracted and loses his waywandering the streets of New York penniless is how his holiday ends…

…he finds his way back to England. The following season he plays chess in that same dull league he left behind, which many years thereafter he bored everyone to tears with on that ghastly blog of his…

“Who on earth wrote this limey nonsense! Dreadful and dreary.”

New York Times Literary Review, February 8th 2017


“Good gracious! Sophisticated but oh-so-soporific!”

-The Guardian Literary Supplement, Feb 8th, 2017


“What the blazes! A memoir full of misery -avoid reading at all costs!”

-The Bangkok Post, Cultural Review, second section, Feb 8th, 2017


‘Romantic and probably well-remembered, pretty engaging really.’

Ridgefield Press, Connecticut, Feb 8th, 2017


‘Certainly not the greatest advert for the Bedfordshire Chess League it must be said.’

The Luton News, Bedfordshire, February the eighth, twenty seventeen.


‘Utter shite.’

New in Chess, (Double Dutch edition) Februari achtste, twee van een zeven


“It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.”   
    ― D.W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality                   


The emancipation and its beginnings…                                                                     

If I win a tournament, I win it by myself. I do the playing. Nobody helps me.

Bobby Fischer


Are they Fischer’s hands?

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
― Henry David Thoreau

…in the autumn of nineteen ninety five, I left both chess and Bedfordshire behind when my education branched into Hertfordshire. I studied at a university campus hidden in the woodlands that The River Colne trickled through. Once a stately home in a hallowed antiquity; its empty dining rooms became cluttered seminar halls, which only emptied when lecturers drove home, as afternoons ended and evenings began with journals chosen not only to advance learning but also to abate the boredom of the countryside. I was so scruffy but in that solitude I studied assiduously; something that I had become quite accustomed to, having already wasted spent many years studying chess at home in my room…

…later on in life my education branched beyond the home counties towards our beautiful game, where I rediscovered it buried within the digital revolution which embalms the very words I am typing at present…

The opposite of depression isn’t happiness but vitality.

Andrew Solomon


Wall Hall Campus. I spent years of my life there studying both analytical and continental Philosophy.


Myself with two non-chess players and The River Colne all en route to a country pub named The Old Fox, the only thing to do on Sunday afternoons.

Caissa – Little Miss Scare All!


Beauty is such a terrible thing because no one has fathomed its complexity.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Summer, 1998 – earth and sky become one above Cambridgeshire…

…a parting in the clouds of academia appeared; examinations ended, a conference held by the Aristotelian Society passed, and post-graduate study in Warwickshire was confirmed when the summer in Cambridge came to a close. With little else to do I booked a flight to California so I could cycle along its coastline each afternoon, and when rested, explore the nightlife awaiting. An altogether preferable option to the lanes I took to work everyday: those narrowed by the colleges where annoying tourists meandered by The River Cam, so they could laze on its grassy banks and get drunk together when summer evenings were long…


Bloody Tourists!

Escapism fuelled by inescapism… 

… a bus to Heathrow took me to where a British Airways jet lifted both bicycle and I above the home counties and with England’s grasslands captured en passant, turbulence over a vast azure of sea shook me out of slumber with a momentary optimism ensuing. Many hours more into the flight, the sky darkened over Greenland then Canada. Whilst contemplative over what lay ahead, the dimly lit food I consumed besides the blackened windows directly above engines was unpalatable. I did not care, I was not hungry. I was satisfied sufficiently by the spectre of darkness I travelled through…

All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without the benefit of experience.

Henry Miller

as that plane landed I felt uplifted, having just arrived in L.A. with chronic jetlag. Up and down then down and up its coastline I cycled, huffing and puffing happily, (except when a juggernaut with a very loud horn chased me off the freeway). Below that blazing sun I gleefully soared over my sweaty saddle along those cycle paths, often pausing for that sugary Gatorade stuff at another store by-the-sea, re-reading Wittgenstein in the shade they furnished those beaches withguzzling it good, wondering how I could follow my favourite lecturer’s advice and ‘do philosophy’ like Socrates on the streets of Athens once did, whilst lazing around on that golden sand with untalkative sunbathers. That was how those first days passed until the afternoon when Labour Day arrived unforeseen and punctured my progress on the path ahead!

The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity (one is unable to notice something because it is always before one’s eyes). The real foundations of his enquiry do not strike a man at all.
― Ludwig Wittgenstein

Labour day…’loving you was like loving the dead’ – Pete Steele…

…I was chauffeured on that day out of kindness and curiosity by a new-found friend, the great, great, great, grandson of the former President of America, Zachary Taylor. Through his well-rehearsed endeavors I was introduced to a Philosophy grad like myself, who unlike myself, spoke with an eloquence that accentuated above the jazz in the background. It was still early afternoon. She sat with her closest friends, one of whom became coquettish upon accompaniment. Tipsy, I sat at their table as a guest being polite rather than gauche, even when my Englishness was prodded at and poked fun of. All laughed loudly when I couldn’t place where Connecticut was, all except the one sat at the far end of the table. After an hour or two passed, we paid up for the empty glasses amassed on the table then left, looking for some fun in the afternoon sun…


Zachary Taylor

…on a walkway that sloped down to Redondo Beach Harbour was where Rachel and I first came together. We found a bar named Naja’s Place. There, rock music blared on into the evening. Through its raucous crowds was how we entered with no stools to sit on as ‘The Downward Spiral’ by Nine Inch Nails began playing…

…an articulate Ivy League graduate with designer glasses appended to a pretty face -such a woman I had never met before let alone be introduced to. The ageing Bedfordshire Chess League, quiet libraries of Hertfordshire, and cycle lanes of Cambridgeshire were the limits of my world; all that beyond, I had only a passing interest in, believing women were rubbish not very good at chess like me thus not really worth bothering with…

…whilst on Mexican beer I mentioned Wittgenstein briefly, referring to an academic -whose name I can no longer recall- and how his written deliberations always crowded my desk: yet at the Aristotelian conference only weeks before, he nervously asked me whether it would be ‘quite alright’ if I could show him how to open a window he had difficulty with. ‘So’, I thought to myself, ‘publications on Wittgenstein are easily written but opening a window was harder’…have a good chuckle at that we most certainly did until I accidentally spilled beer on someone’s boot. With myself being a pacifist –albeit a rather bad-tempered one- thankfully he did not notice, and being a true American continued his conversation in the loudest most unabated, unabashed manner possible, allowing us to drunkenly ‘do philosophy’. Now very merry charmed by yours truly, -for some impossible reason-, in search of some privacy we left the bar…


Nondescript yet unforgettable: a progenitor of philia if ever there was one…a downward spiral?

…and staggered along the harbour where wealthier males moored their yachts. There I was cajoled into a smooching session as many in beachwear walked on by…

Man’s happiness today consists in “having fun.” Having fun lies in the satisfaction of consuming and “taking in” commodities, sights, food, drinks, people, lectures, books, movies—all are consumed, swallowed. The world is one great object for our appetite, a big apple, a big bottle, a big breast; we are the sucklers, the eternally expectant ones, the hopeful ones—and the eternally disappointed ones.
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving


About half way along was where that smooching session went on. We were drunk and didn’t care who saw what -how romantic!

…wild nights on the strip in Hollywood were had. One week later, to the acronymized NYC where Rachel awaited, in an American Airlines jet, where big bagels were offered for breakfast I flew: unable to see into the darkening horizon beyond and how to find where the condiments on the tray were hidden. Just as I was about to eat a bagel I was stopped by a hostess. ‘Sir, should you wish to use the lavatory please inform me first’. ‘Er okay, why?’ I asked, somewhat surprised. ‘The lavatories in economy are all malfunctioning. Somebody blocked one with the contents of his back passage. None of them work now’. ‘Oh, that’s rather unfortunate. So if I do need to go, what then?’ I asked trying to sound interested. ‘Sir, the flight is almost empty, we can move you up to business or first. You see sir, you get a higher class of turd in those sections of the aircraft, so you can use the lavatories there if you so wish…mull it over whilst you enjoy that bagel of yours.’ That I did not. ‘Hmm, I intend to stay right where I am and if you offer or even threaten to upgrade me I shall have to write a letter of complaint. I shall stay right where I am. I have no interest in your corporate imposition of class structure. ‘ Off she went in a huff…

…I was met at Newark Airport, New Jersey. There I was given a chocolate bar by Rachel before as we boarded a bus that swept us across the cityscape in all its sunlit splendour. Later that evening, as Rachel lay asleep, I ate her gift and slowly drifted into thoughts of how summer was ending, how overdrawn I was becoming at the bank, and how a kid from a broken, immigrant family, one who grew up on a rough council road far from the school he never liked could be in New York with barely a month to spare before commencing a Masters’ degree. I thought about Connecticut, her home state, and what it must be like until dreams of us travelling around the state on a ghetto connector a Greyhound bus interlaced with sleep itself after what had been a long day of discovery…

Rachel had not moved since we left New Haven. We mirrored each other’s posture and sat still until I took an interest in the serenity outside. Beyond the square windows of the bus, a painted line went by. A sign said “Welcome to-Morrow County”. Further in the distance, the shining windows of a farmhouse blazed by a creek that wove among the fields in the hills, beyond valleys sloping into an expanse of time, where day and wild orchids blew across the freeway ahead…

I briefly awoke but knew not where I was…

…a muddy greyhound ran with the bus over boundless hills, across fields and forests, to where water drew in the thirsty. Under trees sunk in mist and mud, a rush of water slammed a drowning deer into rocks where a brook broke into a river, foaming and forming around a collapsed footbridge.

I awoke once more, the room was dark still…

There, standing in a valley that the bus passed, I looked older and had a beard. It was sunset and the light was fading. I was reading aloud an excerpt from Tennyson’s Ulysses:

             ‘And this gray spirit yearning in desire

            To follow knowledge like a sinking star,

            Beyond the utmost of human thought.’

…and for the last time I awoke not quite knowing where I had gone until my eyes rolled back in my head. I was soon fast asleep.

‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.’ – Marcel Proust


…for a week we stayed in that suburbia that more unimaginative less visionary chess players, may assume is the strongest of all –Queens


Fischer v Petrosian 1959. Surely Bobby should have lived in Queens rather than Brooklyn after this draw? Their draw is played out below.


A shadow of hope?

…emancipation and its disconnect with an elucidation…

Many of our most serious conflicts are conflicts within ourselves. Those who suppose their judgments are always consistent are unreflective or dogmatic.

John Rawls – Justice as Fairness: A Restatement

…through Soho we walked, itself so different to the residential beach areas I had become familiar with in L.A; decaying architecturally yet comparatively vibrant until I came into contact with people playing our beautiful game. Then everything changed. Close to a video rental store we went to was Washington Square, where chess hustlers hung out and unkempt strays gathered -some of whom not only wandered across the city to play chess, but before that, defected from afar in search of ‘The American Dream’ and only the devil knows whatever else…

So I went to New York City to be born again. It was and remains easy for most Americans to go somewhere else and start anew. I wasn’t like my parents. I didn’t have any supposedly sacred piece of land or shoals of friends to leave behind. Nowhere has the number zero been of more philosophical value than in the United States…and when the [train] plunged into a tunnel under New York City, with its lining of pipes and wires, I was out of the womb and into the birth canal.

Kurt Vonnegut -Bluebeard

George Bernard Shaw once claimed that Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language. I thought about that as we sat side by side, wanting to initiate conversation before becoming distracted by the action ahead. I failed, more curious whether that same silent, morose manner that chess is played with in England could be seen in those more competitive than magnanimous; content within cliques outside which they were ardently anti-social. In the sunlight Rachel’s glasses glinted. She looked so pretty but we barely spoke. I was preoccupied. Some players, I noted, seemed visibly bored. What were their days about I wondered, forming the opinion that everyday they play, they win but sometimes lose, they neither pocket much money nor socialize, and savour shadenfreude they don’t; they just eat, drink, take the subway home, and after another day of being downbeaten by the slithers of past success ends, they are inexorably less loquacious…

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays


…the transgressing past travelling through NYC… 

‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.’ – Henry David Thoreau

…adjacent to that unedifying ensemble of chess-playing New Yorkers, I continued to remain distracted whilst accompanied; maturing into a competitive chess player, the person sat closest to me was always my opponent and rarely spoke after the end of game handshake I always acquiesced to. I only ever played chess out of a blind love for our beautiful game but as those years went by, the law of diminishing returns set in deep: a drawish opening repertoire lacking any real dynamism never helped as I so often lost interest and made mistakes, ending games with mad time scrambles whilst fending off blood-curdling attacks!

In musing over the memories of chess amassed, I suddenly became sombre. I remembered my worst teenage years and how during winter’s darkest nights, play became tougher because the oppressive silence chess itself demands isolated me from my team mates with a degree of discomfort that far outweighed the pleasure of playing. Matches always ended about an hour before midnight, and being a team captain I had to be the last to leave, ensuring everything was locked up. I always walked home by myself. Listening to the winter snow crunch under my boots, and watching headlights cut through the cold air, forming shadows through the trees blocking the path ahead. Sometimes, as I lay awake at night, haunted by the absence of the only person who ever loved me as a child and how she was no longer there when I needed consoling, I curled up with a sadness so eviscerating, and stared into the darkness for hours without moving a limb, not knowing why I had lost interest in my game…

To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness.

Eric Fromm

Then the person closest at that very moment, with brown eyes softening in the sunlight asked, ‘…umm do you like chess Mark?’ ‘I certainly used to and may I ask -do you?’ ‘No. I’m curious because a place called the Marshall Chess Club is only a couple of blocks away. I went there once…would you like to go with me?’ Though initially excited to do something together, something just didn’t seem right about it. ‘From what little I remember the person they named the club after was defeated more than once by a man from my home town...William something-or-other I think. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea but perhaps I am wrong.’  A minute of silence passed. ‘Hmm…and how old were you when that occurred?’ ‘Oh I wasn’t even born, it was many decades before’, ‘So he will have been forgiven by now then just as you will be I’m sure’, she said with a smile. And there I sat, thinking about chess until a morbidly obese woman announced to all that a hot-dog eating contest was to commence at a stall close by; play in the park paused as tables emptied, those in search of something more ingratiating and awfully American returned with it already half-eaten.

Obviously, I believe that to pursue the American Dream is not only futile but self-destructive because ultimately it destroys everything and everyone involved with it. By definition it must, because it nurtures everything except those things that are important: integrity, ethics, truth, our very heart and soul. Why? The reason is simple: because life is giving, not getting.

Hubert Selby Jnr.


Marshall V Ward 6th Anglo-American cable match 1901. Marshall plays 40. Re4 not realizing that Ward can simply capture the knight on c4. After 40. … Rxc4, white is lost.

Suffuse with asynchronicity came a commiseration…

“Reason flows from the blending of rational thought and feeling. If the two functions are torn apart, thinking deteriorates into schizoid intellectual activity and feeling deteriorates into neurotic life-damaging passions.”
― Erich Fromm

Upon walking past Wall St., the path ahead became lost as I asked myself a question or two. ‘Exactly where in Manhattan did Bobby Fischer play? And did he have a redemptive idea of what chess demanded from him?’ I saw a bench and sat down, my hands holding my head as if my position had gone from winning to unclear. Why did I feel closer to who I admired in my youth instead of who I was with, wondering where he walked, what he did, unable to realize that as I grew up Fischer was only a role model, his importance conflated by a literary genre far more sycophantic than academic. Fischer was never an exemplar and nor could he have been given how he conducted himself away from the board I told myself to no avail, my love of chess unlamented still. ‘Mark. May I ask you a question?’ ‘Yes’, I said clearing my thought, ‘what is it?’ ‘You seemed happy in L.A. Why aren’t you like that here? You don’t like New York do you or is it me?’ ‘No it’s not you’, I replied. ‘And its not New York either’ She paused briefly, ‘So are you feeling okay? Are you like this with other women?’ ‘What other women? I never met a woman before…I’ve only ever liked dead chess players and dead philosophers. Apart from my grandmother, you are the only living person I have ever felt anything at all for’, I stated. ‘Hmph’ she scratched her head, ‘well I noticed your mood altered when you saw those chess players. You seemed different…encumbered by something for some reason. Hey sorry, I just wanted us to be happy’, and there we sat together but apart, both staring into the traffic, watching it pass by aimlessly, breathing in its pollution, rendering ourselves more rational than we really were…

“Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an ordination of character which determines the relatedness of the person to the world as a whole, not toward one object of love”

Erich Fromm


Most people are not even aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinion as the result of their own thinking – and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as this of the majority.  
― The Art of Loving pg. 11 Erich Fromm

Robert James Fischer – birth-solitude-chess-solitude-death-solitude

A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.
Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms








The United States is an illegitimate country, just like Israel. It has no right to exist. That country belongs to the Red man, the American Indian… It’s actually a shame to be a so-called American, because everybody living there is a usurper, an invader taking part in this crime, which is to rob the land, rob the country and kill all the American Indians.

Robert James Fischer














I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
Robert Frost, West-Running Brook




After your death, you will be what you were before your birth.
― Arthur Schopenhauer


When I wrote songs like ‘Everyone I Love is Dead,’ I never thought about how I was going to execute them live – Pete Steele

I knew that a historian (or a journalist, or anyone telling a story) was forced to choose, out of an infinite number of facts, what to present, what to omit. And that decision inevitably would reflect, whether consciously or not, the interests of the historian.

Howard Zinn – A people’s history of the United States

The speeding train that hit an epiphany head on!


Brooklyn’s finest…

New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous.
But there is one thing about it – once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.

John Steinbeck, American and Americans, and selected Nonfiction

In the grayish air of an uncertain afternoon, thoughts about chess dispersed and together we agreed it was time to head back. Alfred Hitchcock, once said “Happiness is a clear horizon’; through two straight sunless streets we walked, alongside its relentless, raucous traffic, we danced to that percussion from those pedestrians always pushing past until we sank into the subway station nearest, purchasing a ticket some minutes later. Then, as the train left Manhattan, we saw the setting sun spill into the East river, and over the suburbia approaching. And as that train sped on, I sat staring into the distance unaware of what was waiting at the next station…

…at Lowery St. Station, Queens, we alighted with many who rushed past. From nowhere an epiphany arrived and slammed straight into me: that to find a fuller life rather than succumb to yet more years of scholarly solitude was a well-chosen move: all the bookshops I browsed through whilst playing truant at school were now closed off, those empty aisles in the local library now shut out, chess clubs where boring old farts insisted that silence reigned supreme, hushing and shushing every utterance before blaming it on their next blunder now forsaken, those weekends wasted by county matches to remote corners of East Anglia, and tournaments held in Hertfordshire’s church halls where clocks ticked away loudly, chairs scrapped wooden floors, and resignations by so many sat in solitude broke through a leadened silence, were now all renounced…

I was sitting at home and had a profound experience. I experienced, in all of my being, that someday I was going to die, and it wouldn’t be like it had been happening, almost dying but somehow staying alive, but I would just die! And two things would happen right before I died: I would regret my entire life; I would want to live it over again. This terrified me. The thought that I would live my entire life, look at it and realize I blew it forced me to do something with my life.

Herbert Shelby Jr.

Queens…idealization…red water…

…’Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’ – Søren Kierkegaard

…in the streets that stretched over Brooklyn the sunlight faded and that chequered bedroom window above us both became softly lit. Opposed to sleep, I stared at that window no longer numb to what wasting my youth on a board game had done to me; in chess there are critical moments in every game we play, and how we prepare ourselves to handle them is often decisive, that I knew, but in life itself, I was without preparation, not even acutely aware they existed away from the board too, and that I had reached one…

…next morning, sunlight filled the room and warmed the air. ‘I’m feeling kinda flaky’ Rachel told me before she ‘stepped out‘ for coffee. Whilst she did I deciding that we should go to Colney Island, where one of my favourite films was shot, and where we could be by the beach again, now conscious that a flag began to fall as my time in NYC came to a close…

How can there be a true history when we see no man living can write truly a history of the last week?

T. Shadwell, The Squire of Alsatia 1688

…we socialized and Rachel was courteous and considerate, taking me to Colombia University, where she had graduated, then into the curling hills of Connecticut to meet her family. In a quaint village not far north of New Haven, they took us for a meal, her grandmother commentating that I looked like a member of The Beatles. I thought it best not to mention that the only band I ever liked from Liverpool is Carcass.


Carcass, a still from the single – Unfit for Human Consumption. Like so many other crap chess players, I also fit into that category…right Rachel?

…to ‘The Ale House’ in Upper-East Manhattan, to the best pizza I have ever had thereafter, and back to her apt but how I do not remember. Not sober and not sleeping, I clambered along a dark corridor back in the apartment. By the basin I peed and washed my hands below a mirror. I stared at myself in that with those same lifeless eyes my opponents always stared at me with over the board, especially whenever it was my move and his name was dreadfully Dickensian. Many minutes passed yet I still stared. I was no longer him yet not free from him I thought as I sensed his presence from within. Then, I saw him glance away, fraught with despair, knowing that I stopped playing chess, stopped studying in solitude the games of those long since dead. I wanted to put my fist straight through the mirror. That I then did, the realization that the aloneness within me was made manifest only upon reflection. I hit my reflection on the nose hard and shattered the mirror. Crashing down it came, startling Rachel. Barely a few seconds later she was there standing in the doorway scratching her head, ‘What’s happened!’ she asked looking somewhat confused. ‘The mirror broke not because I saw someone intolerable at that very moment but in the moments gone forever‘, I said with such seething anger. ‘You mean you broke my mirror deliberately?’, she asked terse with disbelief. I would not answer.

Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose and depression is the mechanism of that despair. When it comes it degrades oneself and ultimately eclipses the capacity to give or receive affection. It is the aloneness within us made manifest and it destroys not only connection to others but also the ability to be peacefully alone with oneself.

Andrew Solomon- The Noonday Demon, an Atlas of Depression


Queens in sunlight…

… as I lay awake the blackness of evening seeped into my mind, feeling the force of an epiphany that slammed right into me. I felt guilty and restless. ‘Whilst Rachel sleeps, I ought to go out and do something. Go walk, go discover’, I told myself. And that I did. I left the apartment quietly, carefully closing the door behind me. Dressed in black I walked to Manhattan. But instead of walking towards the oblique tip of the Chrysler Building, which I could see across the river, I moved like a knight across the city grid following street signs that said where not to go, where a fuller moon was blocked by buildings, and the trees dimmed all the street-lights by Bleeker Street. 


One way?

…I kept walking; not walking away from Queens, just walking on and on and on. Each junction became emptier and a deadened silence hung in the air, hardly what you would expect from the ‘city that never sleeps’. I found a club named CBGBs. Look lively it did, so in I went hoping I could use the bathroom where people hopping mad hung out…

“If other people do not understand our behaviour—so what? Their request that we must only do what they understand is an attempt to dictate to us. If this is being “asocial” or “irrational” in their eyes, so be it. Mostly they resent our freedom and our courage to be ourselves. We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them. How many lives have been ruined by this need to “explain,” which usually implies that the explanation be “understood,” i.e. approved. Let your deeds be judged, and from your deeds, your real intentions, but know that a free person owes an explanation only to himself—to his reason and his conscience—and to the few who may have a justified claim for explanation.”

Erich Fromm – The art of being.

…the club was rammed, the music full-blast. It was hot and sweaty. I needed a beer pronto. No one was an outsider, everyone was part of the club. Type-O-Negative, played. I moved away from the bar. I was dragged into a moshpit and lost my drink, so I returned to the bar to get another whilst we all sang along to songs about suicide. En route a stage diver landed on my head and knocked me to the floor. Worse still, the beer I had just bought was now lost again.

I had hit a critical period in my life, where I changed very much as a person. I consider the person I used to be dead and I’m glad that he is. Insecure, frightened, confused, much like a lot of people I know today.

Peter Steele

…the band took a break, to the bar I clambered. A woman dressed in black bit me on the neck then pushed me out of the way! She did that minutes later too. I was drunk by then so it mattered not. Another mosher pushed past moments later. Beer sprayed around and as I walked to the toilet someone else bonked my bonce. He got up then failed to drag me into one more moshpit: as the injuries amassed, the less I cared. I was free and that was what mattered most…

The liberation of ‘Under-promotion’… 

…somehow I found my way back before dawn broke. With no key I rang the bell. Rachel answered the door in her gown sleepily. ‘What happened?’ I had no answer. ‘Mark, I thought you were a learned man, a gentleman even but then…and now just look at you!’ she said after we sat down together on the sofa. I felt excited still rather than injured and it showed.

The greatest challenge with communication is facing the illusion that it has taken place’ D.G.Wells

‘Well, I should spend some time alone’, there followed a pregnant pause, ‘its best we both do that if you will be okay by yourself?’,  ‘Why wouldn’t I be?’ I replied. ‘Mark, just look at the state you are in. How clumsy can a person be? I thought perhaps you’d like to go and play chess in Soho or something.’ ‘Play chess? What the fuck for…oops I mean I’d much rather go to some concerts and enjoy myself…um, should I extend my flight?’ I asked. ‘You may do as you wish‘, came the reply. She returned to her room and closed the door. That was it. I left and never saw her again…

Modern man thinks he loses something – time – when he does not do things quickly. Yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains, except kill it.
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving


A decaying past -Colney Island

Colney Island – an unprepared endgame

Adversity is a great teacher, but this teacher makes us pay dearly for its instruction; and often the profit we derive, is not worth the price we paid.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

…for days I walked the streets alone, waiting for that rescheduled flight. Overdrawn at the bank by student loans, I had no money to buy a room with. I took the D-train to Colney Island and by a disused theme park I met a homeless heroin addict from Ontario, he never told me his name. Fond of company and a few dollars more for his habit, he showed me his den and how hidden from prying eyes it was. We talked and drank and talked all day long. He told me how his pursuit of the American Dream had cost him his marriage and his career as a journalist way back in the early 70s. I believed him. He spoke in a gentlemanly manner with a penetrating intellect, so I had no reason to doubt him. He would die soon if I did not help him, he said repeatedly. Although I believed that too, I could barely help myself, turning to cider whilst he turned to the needle. He was not well at all: I saw helplessness in his stare, heard sincerity in his voice, and found him to be warm-hearted but there was nothing I could do. I had nothing to give.

…I stayed close enough to the sea on the first night to feel its cold air. On the second, still drunk from the night before, I found him dead upon awakening and knew not what to do. He’d overdosed whilst I slept. That afternoon I sat on a bench staring at the sea for hours, lamenting all that was lost, fretting over flight confirmations, drowning in sorrow, struggling to hold back the tears in the sea air. The following day I stood on the beach by the water’s edge. I could go no further and there I stood all afternoon, facing the sun, untalkative and out of reach to the public passing by on the promenade…those were my last days on the east coast.

…I flew back to L.A, collected my bicycle and caught my return flight home. I did not know what else to do with myself…


Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
― Robert Frost

Keele University fucked about with the MA I was supposed to start, so over the phone, I told them to ‘fuck off‘ as a new chess season began. I was back playing for my club and county for the first time in a few years, welcomed back by many but none knew why I had returned to the fold. I could not tell anyone why and not because I had something to hide but because in truth I didn’t know…

…although my results improved dramatically, every game was shit: at the board I was a corpse but on I played, strangled by a sense of nothingness, the tourniquet around my neck being the beauty of chess itself…

…one winter morning, I was driven to Bedford to play for the county. It pissed it down as we passed through long acres of fallow fields where in the distance their footpaths were flooded. Uninspired, I read a poem en route:

Going – Philip Larkin

There is an evening coming in
Across the fields, one never seen before,
That lights no lamps.

Silken it seems at a distance, yet
When it is drawn up over the knees and breast
It brings no comfort.

Where has the tree gone, that locked
Earth to the sky? What is under my hands,
That I cannot feel?

What loads my hands down?

..the afternoon dragged. I sat with a winning position over the board, but bored shitless, I stared out the windows as rain pissed down them, repeatedly asking myself ‘Why am I back here again?’  We sat in a small hut opposite the hospital there. I counted the floors it had, there were six. When it was my turn to move I deliberated tactically. When it was my opponent’s turn to move I contemplated positional motives. I sat so still and stared at the hospital, where many more were resigned whilst facing death itself, and die there they did every day. I thought about leaving my won position, walking over in the rain, taking the lift to the top floor and jumping to my own death. But instead I beat my opponent with a wistful smile, then sat amongst my team mates silently as we travelled home along the roads the rain lashed down upon from an unforgiving, blackened sky…

It is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late.

Emile Cioran

…in the twelve years I took chess out of my life, that was the only anomaly. It amounted to nothing more than most of one season for my town and county, and that’s all. I returned to chess only because I loved our beautiful game, and still do as I type these very words. Back then chess was just a game I was quite good at rather than an untimely cultural phenomenon to be avoided, courtesy of the avarice of adolescence; whilst sat alone at the board for thousands of hours, I was always more focused on understanding my position over the board rather than living a fuller life away from it. But still, I returned to the fold, it was: ‘an emancipation without freedom, a freedom without the elucidation that beauty is such a terrible thing’, somehow I missed the simplicity of home and having nothing much to do…the aspirations of greatness and their refuge even though I was rubbish at chess then as I am now, somehow I missed the comfort in being sad…

Finding this post too difficult to understand?

It’s too dense right? Well piss off then Well here’s a Marcel Duchamp, who appears within, inspired montage of it and the anticipated transition ahead: and yes that refers to the thumbnail chosen, and yes Rachel there is a picture of you but not one you, perhaps, anticipate. The music is a slow-paced rock song. It is quite listenable even if you are not a fan of the genre.

…this post represents a transition. Though, unfortunately, I will always love chess, I simply cannot give it the attention I once could. Apart from the research I may undertake in the summer of 2018 -the focus of which will be the history of Bedfordshire chess only -there will be no further posts to this site. I found writing this rather exhausting, the only thing I find enjoyable is the amusing montage above, it is time to move on…

“Let us not be needlessly bitter: certain failures are sometimes fruitful … Let us salute it, then, even celebrate it: our solitude will be reinforced, affirmed. Cut off from one more channel of escape, up against ourselves at last, we are in a better position to inquire as to our functions and our limits, the futility of having a life.”

Emile Cioran

All future posts will be on the following


Does he to the left look like your typical chess player?

Mark. J. McCready 



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“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Before I returned to chess I did play in a tournament in Kuwait once. I remember that I enjoyed it very much despite being so rusty.

I found evidence in the video below, at around the 3.50 mark, that despite such a long hiatus I still played 1. f4 [and Rachel, the picture of me @ the 02.50 mark shows me wearing the green cardigan that Al bought me, may he rest in peace].

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“Progress is the injustice each generation commits with regard to its predecessors.” 

Emile Cioran

It’s arguable that chess is on the up in England. Those of us who understand club and county chess exceptionally well can tell you that both of the aforementioned pale in comparison to what they were in more recent decades…

So I visited The London Chess and Bridge centre in Middlesex yesterday. It’s based in a place called London…or something like that. On ‘Baker street’ apparently…

I thought it would be at best dingy and disheveled, full of depressed, lost souls that are far too British in their demeanour, however, that was not the case. It was, in fact, quite the opposite, and in becoming excited by that -just look at what I went and bought!

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The avarice of assertiveness without an ensuing assuredness has struck again. My daughter seized upon her father’s treasured possessions then reeked havoc with glitter! The copies I made of Chess in Bedfordshire, published so long ago (search within the site yeah) have…hmm…but being only 4 years old, Grace, perhaps convinced that a picture really does say a thousand words, depicted our great forefathers, and tbh, I’m not quite sure if she’s got it right there!


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“In everyone there sleeps
A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make
By loving others, but across most it sweeps,
As all they might have done had they been loved.
That nothing cures.”

Faith Healing -Philip Larkin

Depart here: arrive there. I am about to ‘win the exchange’, to put it metaphorically for ahead is an ascent into the sky by A380, leaving behind a bid farewell to the fragments of a life long since passed, still echoing, resonating into that to come: the resumption of the life I chose, the airline chosen to carry me there, and my child waiting for her father to carry her, therefore, an exchange of locations awaits. I will ‘win the exchange’ but it is not without an evinced sense of sorrow. To cherish that disparate fragment left behind so deeply, I will miss it…I know how I will feel and think during take-off next week: ‘Into my heart an air that kills’…one day next year the Bedfordshire chess scene will feel like ‘the land of lost content’, that I can tell … .

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

A Shropshire Lad v.40 A. E. Housman

Behold the spectacle of Bedford Chess Club! Before departing I went there to see both it and its members new and old. It was great to thank Mr. Paul Habershon for the help he has given and to be escorted to the bar by Mr. Nigel Staddon, now 87 years old, able to answer the questions I posed. It was also a pleasure to meet Mr. Steve Pike, and have a chat at the bar… in fact I wonder and ask myself did I spend more time chatting in the bar than in the club watching games? All in all, truly amazing it was and whether or not I had drunk cider just before never mattered…not that I would ever do such a thing you understand being on the medication that I am!

Oops! Now where's that delete button gone?

Oops! Now where’s that delete button gone?

At the centre of the county scene flourishes Bedford Chess Club. I was so welcomed, it was so very touching but within my heart a sadness spoke too, it said ‘When you close the door as you leave, you must say goodbye to not just the members but the club as a whole’. Many I met were kind and so polite, happy to see me again. There was much to talk about and part of me wanted not to go but to stay… .

I left the building and there something left me…when the exit door was opened it jarred then splintered through my heart…but I remembered as one door closes another opens, and close it I did…so upon the street I stood alone… .

“Loneliness clarifies. Here silence stands
Like heat. Here leaves unnoticed thicken,
Hidden weeds flower, neglected waters quicken,
Luminously-peopled air ascends;
And past the poppies bluish neutral distance
Ends the land suddenly beyond a beach
Of shapes and shingle. Here is unfenced existence:
Facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach.”
Here -Philip Larkin
There, stood staring into an avenue empty, my brain stopped processing for a split second or two: then I heard the trees arching over rustle in the wind that gusted suddenly, saw the street lights become brighter, felt the pain of ‘farewell’ sharpening, and for a moment I was disorientated. Towards the train station I walked happy but sad, sad but happy as I had an evening so inspired by the courtesy and company of others, and it cannot be repeated… .
To the action… .

In Bedford 3, I offer assistance to Steve Pike’s son at @6.10 then appear!

Farewell beloved Bedford Chess Club…it was such a pleasure, I do hope one day I will see you again…once I have won the exchange (of locations) and played on with a better position…perhaps I will return with my daughter to play also…if I can free us up… .

“Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies … the pain of the leaving can tear us apart.
Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.”

Henri J. M. Nouwen

Life moves us on. And on. And whilst at the station awaiting an extortionately priced train to where I grew up, that afternoon of horrendous delays extended long into the evening… . It was then, and only then, that my love of the chess club in Bedford became perceptible as a dissonant fragment of a life long passed by, thus a cynical epiphany occurred. I told myself, ‘what I tolerate, so must my child, as she will endure what I endure’. Crap train service as always, for example. I told myself, ‘If you tolerate this (extortionate and crap train service) then your child will be (the) next (to tolerate this extortionate and crap train service)’… .

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You pretend to what you say you feel
You pretend that you’re something special
All your lies that you hide behind
I see right through you
See right through you

The Perfect Life – Steve Wilson

In the final day, which had two rounds of the Bedfordshire County Championship in May 2010, tragedy struck. In the break between the morning and afternoon game I sat by myself as quiet and deep in thought as always. A close friend called to say that our mutual friend and Irish man Tom O’Grady had suddenly died. His hospital told him his cancer returned and he had five days to live only… . They were correct, he died five days later. Leaving his two teenager sons behind. They lost the father they loved, his family lost a member so beloved, his many friends he was so close to lost a great companion…upon the cricket pitch I had wandered into, there I stood remembering how charming his banter was, the intellectual American lady I knew was much pleasured by his gentlemanly, jovial and captivating tête-à-têtes always within earshot of anyone nearby wherever he was… .

She said “The water has no memory.”
For a few months everything about our lives was perfect.
It was only us, we were inseparable.
But gradually, she passed into another distant part of my memory,
until I could no longer remember her face, her voice, even her name.

The Perfect Life – Steve Wilson

So hurt I remained on the pitch since I was more isolated there, standing towards where the horizon broadened with that which withered and that which did not. Of all people to be taken away…why…why him? I stopped so very hurt knowing he had suffered so greatly for so long…his child autistic and in need of such great care, then of course, the two stabbings in London…was he really the same thereafter? Poor, poor Tom.

We have got, we have got a perfect life – The Perfect Life – Steve Wilson

I could not go home on that day at that time so play on I did. It was my worst game ever. In shock, I never wanted to be there, never spoke to anyone, never concentrated, and stood at the window to stare into the fields beyond so that no one would see when tears flowed from my eyes. I could not try in my game and lose I did. It mattered not. You must never play chess under such tragic circumstances for its outcome can never matter…life itself matters more…R. I. P Tom O’Grady. Good bye my good friend.

Take your pride, take your vanity. Can’t you see that your ego’s empty. The Perfect Life – Steve Wilson

The writer of that below is so talented and clever. You won’t guess what it is about because that’s his style.

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“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” – Orson Wells

LIFTED FROM THE NEWS: ‘Harpenden, Hertfordshire had its reputation torn asunder in the media today when two chess-snobs, from Bedfordshire of all places, entered a chip shop nearly bombed during WW2, and sat guzzling chips, dressed up as Nazis, glorifying Germany’s greatest ever chess players. Whilst leaving, a local geriatric, witnessed by a teenager entering, pointed at them with his walking stick and said ‘Who do I kill?’ as he glared at them, just before he walked out and he got into his car, slamming his door shut’. When questioned, the owner of the shop said, ‘Oh I was so worried, when I said to them “HEY YOU TWO DROP GUNS!”, they turned their heads away and talked about someone called Tarrasch…I knew something would happen eventually…er chips anyone?’

Ha ha, only kidding but you must watch the video next before continuing because it’s so unique (oops sorry there, I forgot that unique is a non-gradable adjective) and the music is right up there. In the 1990s I only ever liked music that was strange, intense, or hopefully both. That track isn’t intense but the video is strange, very creative, and so well shot, and don’t ask me what the hell is going on in it because I can’t help you there, even though I’ve been watching it for twenty years now…oh and hardly anyone knows this but the cameo that appears @ 1.23 is Kurt Cobain from Nirvana, sadly no longer with us (btw, like Cobain, Hater were from Seattle). You must skip the first 27 seconds for the music to start. Enjoy what looks like a serial-killer laden and deeply disturbing sub-culture of Seattle, USA (not Harpenden UK)!

And on we go…

I have recently learned that when you should be dead but somehow are not, you quickly learn who your friends are and are not.

‘I’m so tired, I can’t sleep.’ Pennyroyal Tea -Nirvana 

Some thirty years ago the gentry across Bedfordshire befriended me but when news broke that I may not live on, concerns gripped the county!

‘Who gotta get it?’ Who do I kill -Hater 

Embraced at the airport upon my return by he who has always been closest to me, then two days later by he whose play I always admired the most -and despite being brain damaged with blood still trapped inside my head -what a glorious day was had in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, even though Mr. Nick McBride now lives in Kent and drove so very far to see me, waking up at 3.45 am -what a gentleman!

‘All of a sudden, I found myself in love with the world.’ Jesus Built My Hotrod -Ministry

At no point of the day could conversation cease, since there was so much to talk about, and with Harpenden being so quiet, quaint and quick to explore, wonderful it was to wander around its bookshops aimlessly, then reminisce whilst sat in its coffee shops until late-afternoon approached unwantonly. In one I noticed the flooring consisted of large square tiles, moving like a wandering king into adjacent squares in any direction, I reached the counter, coughed loudly and announced the following, ‘I’d like to “sit and drink Pennyroyal Tea. I’m anemic royality”‘, the reply was ‘Oh we have none sir but we can offer some “warm milk, laxatives and cherry flavoured antacids.”‘ 

On foot with the trees decidedly deciduous, the air chilly, the sky grey, the rain light, it felt autumnal and I felt alive again, albeit fleetingly as we walked along pathways that the village green sat by; there yellow leaves lay scattered, and unable to leap about like a draught, upon my direction I focused assiduously, able only to proceed like a pawn and move forwards slowly, unbalanced and numbed by the cold air cutting across the paths ahead, beyond the village green to where woodland stretched over a hill, then became lost on the horizon… .

But White argues, while it has been accounted one of history’s positive virtues to overcome (or conceal) the inherent meaninglessness of the past, such concealment is actually vicious, since it deprives people of any liberating vision of alternative possibilities and choices for their own futures. A better function for history is, again, to highlight the discontinuities and contingencies, and so empower people, in the cause of a visionary politics.

Beverly Southgate -History, What & Why, pg. 117, Routledge

…fearing I may be wounded without warning by the unforgotten should it impale my psyche once more, I told myself to concentrate instead on what lies ahead, and remain more focused upon what my interlocutor uttered, proceding undistracted by the leaves that thickened underneath, upon a pathway not as narrow as what we were engaged in, nor as broad as whatever questions were emplotted unrehearsed with utterances contiguous to sentences neither erroneous nor unswerving, each less precise than the next as we wandered on oblivious to whoever most affluent passed by as well as the countryside most English… .

‘Something, I felt, had to be done before I could again look composedly at English landscape’. Edward Thomas

That's Harpenden and we had some chips at a shop up the top of that hill just on the left.

That’s Harpenden and we had some chips at a shop up the top of that hill just on the left.

Poor old Dr. Tinsley, pancreatic cancer got the better of him.

Poor old Dr. Tinsley, pancreatic cancer got the better of him.

The conversation juxtaposed chess and draughts throughout the day, since we both represented England in the latter…are you now ablaze with amazement at how gifted we are or were back in the 90s?


One of my opponents that day, Tom Landry, is standing the forth from the left. I should have beat him but only drew.

Mr. McBride, who challenged draughts extraordinaire Pat McCarthy in Luton on July, 17th 1993 (and don’t ask me why I wore a red T-shirt that day, that was the last time I wore anything of that colour) once produced the English Draughts Journal. Dr. Marion Tinsley sent letters from Florida and Mississippi to him, they met up in London when Tinsley took on the computer Chinook, whilst walking round London parks together they chatted about draughts (or checkers as Tinsley would have called it), academia, chess and life in general.


Pat McCarthy, an Irishman, a true gentleman and sadly no longer with us.

Me one week before Nick's match with Pat took place. My hair didn't go down so well.

Me one week before Nick’s match with Pat took place. My hair didn’t go down so well amongst those who turned up to watch the draughts unfold. Inspired by Al Jourgenson from the intense metal band Ministry.

Oh dear, I do feel embarrassed now…erm…by all means watch Al in action below, its very strange, its funny and captivated me from 92-94 but I suspect you might find it a bit too much. Together the band on video are…erm…jesus how to put it into words, better that you watch and form your own opinions if you can but close your eyes @ 2.05 mark. What Al gets up to @ 3.20…well you watch it. Rather strange!!??



Al Jourgensen, (to the left) who can be well understood in his videos alone although I do not recommend you explore them as they are rather intense to say the least. The person on the right is, of course, William Burroughs who appears in their video ‘Just one fix’, which I suggest you don’t take interest in, even though one scene is a contender for the most difficult to understand in cinematic history. Perhaps only answerable by Burroughs’s fans.

A few of Nick’s comments can be found below.

Dr. Marion Tinsley: ‘I’ve studied draughts more than anyone more than anyone has ever studied anything in history.’

My questions: ‘Why would someone make such an assertion? Was he trying to show how superior he was or did he genuinely believe that?

Nick’s reply: ‘He genuinely believed, I think he was studying for 16 hours everyday.’

Nick’s asserts that: ‘God told him to go and work at Florida A&M

Nick speaks again: ‘Shaeffer said ‘If anything Tinsley’s the computer not his computer, you know not Chinook.’

Nick speaks for the final time reproduced here: ‘Tinsley’s best friend was Paul Thompson was a religious person…he’s the reason why Tinsley became a christian because initially he didn’t believe in god, he said “I always worshiped the shrine of reason.”, those are his exact words but he kept being challenged by Paul Thompson, “How can you explain this? How can you explain that?”.

The determination of this functional interrelationship is carried out by an operation that some modern philosophers, such as W. H. Walsh and Isiah Berlin have called “colligation”. In this operation the aim of explanation is to identify the “threads” that link the individual or institution under study to its specious sociocultural “present”.

Metahistory Page 17 -Hayden White, John Hopkins University Press, 1973

‘In my sleep I grind my teeth. I’m a teethgrinder.’ Teethgrinder -Therapy?

Conclusively, at the end of the day, having returned to a stalemated suburbia, I said goodbye as I exited the car with a knight maneuver, hoping Nick would have a safe journey home. Immediately it dawned that I had just had one of the nicest days of my entire life despite being in recovery, the gratitude undeniably present as I thought how kind it was for someone to drive so far. So many moments were captured en passant during the day telling me how wonderful it was to still be alive and how fortunate I was. I felt happy again and as that evening’s solitude beckoned it mattered not, as the contemplation that lay ahead was dependent upon it. What was the conclusion of the contemplation? Being alone is incorrect no matter where you are because it’s companionship that counts thus being back home in England can be wonderful… .


T’was where we strolled.

Beyond the conclusion lies that which is impromptu: cloaked in verisimilitude, an encore of paradigmatic performances, a staccato narratives between them, and a quotation from something browsed on the day finish the post hand-in-hand as if they were on stage, smiling away together in between bows toward the revered… .



“Losing his mind, he feels it going.” Teethgrinder -Therapy?

Aha, the Emerald Isle’s greatest ever band. The video below takes me back about 3 weeks when I lay in hospital also. Hmm, in fact what the patient undergoes and endures isn’t entirely dissimilar to what I suffered just before slaughter commenced especially @ 2.47 where the patient gets chainsawed open (Mark: it’s 1 month to the day of the accident, just forget about it yeah?)…oh okay, erm…I forgot about the riff that kicks in @ 1.56 whoa…and um…the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Finnish girl I broke my virginity with never ever stopped talking about the singer Andy Cairns the morning after, back in the day when meeting non-chess players and non-metalheads was expressly forbidden and punishable by death or so someone once told me down a pub called ‘The Cock’! Was he a cock? Dunno, can’t remember… .

“We don’t really learn anything properly until there is a problem, until we are in pain, until something fails to go as we had hoped … We suffer, therefore we think.”

Alain de Botton – How Proust can change your life (seen on sale in Harpenden)

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