Age or Change

My mind drifted this morning, far from the algorithm I was working on. Was I old I wondered or had I simply changed.

The truth lies probably somewhere in between. I have both aged and changed, but I suspect the latter was the prime influence on my mood this morning. I was sitting in my ivory tower in London, but my heart lay elsewhere. In a garden perhaps.

If the brain has plasticity then perhaps mine has melted altogether. I certainly find myself a very different person than I was even some short while ago.

I enjoy algorithms, derive great pleasure from the little project I am working on together with three pleasant American physicists, but I find I wax ever more lyrical. I find increasingly that different voices call and I drift into quiet reverie ever more often.

I was dragged grumpily from my laptop and driven to the suburban outpost of Barnes, some short distance along the river from Fulham, where I have lived off and on for over 30 years. More off than on, since I was always drawn to faraway places and for some years the Alps beckoned.

The Covid Queen (as I call my wife) had called for a visit to her venerable and now ancient parents, and I found myself chatting to my much loved father in law. Leaving my wife to conduct a somewhat circular conversation with my also much loved mother in law. Circular, since sadly age has indeed withered her; my mother in law that is.

But the old boy remains needle sharp and I have only to prod him in the right direction and away he goes; I drift in and out of focus and intervene here and there, where and when necessary, to keep the show on the road.

It was raining and we sat under an awning in the garden, talking through the french doors of their drawing room. Covid Queen has decreed that we must remain outside for their safety, and today soft rain trickled down if not our necks, then somewhere perilously close.

We talked of terns and how 85% of chicks apparently have micro plastic in their stomachs. I thought of Blake and those dark Satanic mills he hated. What would he have made of the ecological disaster we have become.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
   “To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
   Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
   And whether pigs have wings.”

And so we did, for that is what I have always done with my father in law. By the time we returned to our own fashionable suburb, I found a deep calm had come over me. I determined to leave the algorithm a while longer and write a bit. Muse. And seek nature in a lovely 40 acre garden right around the corner.


  1. I too have found my mind drifting at work of late.

    Many is the time (today included) where the task of deploying IT monitoring systems and the new frontier of AIOps (more algorithms) becomes back of mind, replaced with a yearning for devolution, a harking back to the days before the agricultural revolution when things (according to some, me perhaps) started to go do right and so wrong at the same time.

    As it happens, I took a step into the Palaeolithic realm today by booking a foraging course for me, the wife and the sister.

    Jam jars on standby…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have made seven trips to London on business, staying at the Savoy, Dorchester, and flats in Chelsea and Knightsbridge. We are foodies and London has excellent restaurants of many nationalities.
    Most enjoyable was a week in the Cotswolds with my wife. In Broadway we stayed at the Mill Hay House…a lovely bed and breakfast. Our home had stone walls, casement windows and a gabled roof, with black face sheep wandering on its lush lawn and a water driven mill. In the kitchen our hostess, Mary, served marvelous breakfasts with British back bacon.
    We also stayed at Number 9 (for its address), a private bed and breakfast in Bath. It was an elegant place. Our beautiful room had a canopied four-poster bed, fireplace, and a view of the English garden in back. Owner Sue Hayward was taking courses in French cooking and served exceptional pheasant soup and medallions of venison just for us.

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    1. The Cotswolds are so beautiful. I occasionally went beagling out in the countryside when I was at Oxford and have always loved it. The Swan at Bibury is one of our favourites, introduced to it as we were by the Vicar of Burford a first cousin of my wife. She has cousins living also in glorious Swinbrook. My wife always wanted a cottage up there but we settled by the sea instead. I was brought up as a child in Kensington (rather posher than Fulham) and was at school in Westminster. These days Sloane Square and Peter Jones are about as far as my wife will travel into Central London. Brought up in Barnes, she seems to fear the Big City as alien and remote!


  3. En route we stopped to see the University of Oxford’s campus. The University of Chicago’s first buildings were modeled after the English Gothic architectural style used at Oxford.
    I was admitted there, but to decided to go to Northwestern University in Evanston, just north of Chicago. All three are among the top 25 universities in the world.

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  4. We might end up full of plastic and with brain chips in our heads. Some sort of cyborg robot dolls. This week I have for the first time bought a bath wash refill meaning I reused the plastic bottle. It felt good 😊

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