Beauty and the Beast on the cobbles

This image, photographed today at 12 noon approx (on Friday 7th September 2018) pushed some powerful thoughts to the forefront of my brain. 

Number One: What is that beautiful thing lying against a communal rubbish bin in Marchmont, one of Edinburgh’s more prestige areas?

It’s a piano, carved (possibly by hand by a master Turner, skilled in the art of wood sculpting), with its ivory keys ripped out and left in situ its strings amid the shell. I played its strings for a while in the street, and they sounded perfect – no keys needed, just my fingers strumming them. They were taut and full of song, as though they wanted to sing and be beautiful, knowing full well they had been abandoned to the street.

I wanted to take this piece of beauty home with me, but don’t have the space. It was lying next to the rubbish bin filled with the excesses of our addiction to consumption. 

This piano has a story; it was crafted by someone, sold by someone, played by someone, played by many. It has been witness to political upheavals, family tragedy, tears, joy, laughter and bad weather, and now it lies on a Marchmont street waiting for the council’s uplift service where it will go into ‘recycling’ or maybe if it’s lucky, ‘upcycling’.

It might end up as a bar in a trendy new Edinburgh establishment. It might be broken up and salvaged for shelving units, it might be taken by some soul walking along the street, who like I, wanted to claim it, live with it, love it. 

Everything begins and everything ends and in between is glorious life. The piano on the street is symbol of all that. 


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Rebel Yell, a word to my younger self

I’ve always been ‘weird’; that’s what my parents and siblings called me growing up. My father told my mother I would ‘calm down’, that the love of good man would quieten me and calm me and make me OK (meaning more feminine), but none of that has happened. 

If anything I have gotten more rebellious as I have gotten older. I have always loved rebellious people, those who jump outside society’s ‘normality’ boxes, those hard lines that define our lives every minute of every day. 

I meet rebels (whether they be quiet grandfathers, old ladies at bus-stops, secret rebels who clothe themselves in the conventional outfit of ‘normal’ life) and they become instant and life-long friends. 

To my younger self I say, life is a bloody roller-coaster but the rebel is still in you, and you’ve gotta live that type of rebel life until the end. 

That rebel life is saying: no, I am not going to accept this or that, I am not going to stop challenging this or that, I am not going to stop being curious and young at heart and determined to make a difference. 

My nine-year-old self wanted to run away and be a gypsy. Decades on, I still want to run away and be a gypsy, and a laptop and social media is my megaphone to the world, so I’ve gotta get this social media thing down, and quit the overwhelm of it all. 


Red Black Slow


I’ve never understood consumerism, the buying and adoration of ‘stuff’. I feel nothing for possessions, except a few favourite bits and pieces – books, prints etc, but I never want to buy much at all.

The above mosaic of photos sums me up. There’s a notebook I bought for myself to write in, wrapped up in lovely paper, then the gorgeous soft cover of it, in red, with a sort of Japanese design; there’s my bike, a soft beautiful mode of transport, perfect for escape into nature, requiring not much looking after at all. There’s a favourite Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel and there’s my bare feet on sand (I’m a barefoot person, always have been, always will be).

The above provides a recipe for a perfect day, complete in all its serenity and anti-consumerist desire.

I want to share my passion for a no-stuff existence more with you as the days and weeks go by because the time is fast approaching when I’m going to be off travelling, living out of a small rucksack with few possessions other than a compact bit of tech, some face cream, lipstick and underwear.

My books will go into storage and it will be just me and my passport and my bag and my tech and curiosity.

A no-stuff life is of paramount importance to me, and so is eating holistically and simply, eating fruits and vegetables and ethically sourced meats from local places, no plastic anywhere to be seen on my person and eating smaller portions and eating more mindfully.

Red Black Slow is my motto, and it’s a motto I apply to my daily life. Red is for passion, Black is a beautiful colour (full of colours in its own right) and Slow is what I want my life to become; slow eating, slow travel, slow experiences (rich experiences). Red and Black to me are the colours of the most beautiful sunset after a calm and serene day, fully focused on the depth of human experience, not focused on stuff, acquisition, consumption and all that crap.

I hope you’ll join me on my travels and I can inspire you to become an anti-consumer. I’d appreciate any tips you have to offer on travelling this way, so please comment below. I’ll always respond.

Jo xx