Well, no. But as a result of the (very) small person's limited life skills and preference for Thomas the Tank Engine as a prophylactic against apoplexy, I have been watching that rather sentimental elegy to the steam era. The Diesel engine (deviously named 'Diesel') is a baddie. There's no more to it than that. He's the embodiment of the same sort of thing that the factories represent in a particular brand of late Georgian or early Victorian novel. Viewed through one lens, that is progress. Viewed through another, it is the merciless advance of technology, driven by money, sponsored by unfeeling and grabbing tycoons. According to Wikipedia, there is a story called 'Thomas and the Evil Diesel'. No ambiguity there, then.
There is something romantic about the steam railway, particularly to the eyes of post-war Britain. There is something undeniably majestic about the late era of steam engines, and seeing them in the flesh (iron?) in the Railway Museum at York is a humbling experience. There's one particular cutaway engine which proves just how impressive these steam engines were as pieces of invention and building, and it's possible to see exactly why there might be this sentimentality for steam. Some things are bettered by the next thing, though. Diesel is a better technology in a lot of ways than steam, but in the Railway Series you can see just how the steam engines can be presented as preferable. At the very simplest level, the steam engines are painted beautifully, clean and bright. Diesel himself is grey/black, and looks thoroughly miserable. The future, it seems, is always going to be frightening, and characterised as such by those who long for the glorious past. I'm not immune to it. Old guitars and amplifiers hold a mystique to me that doesn't necessarily reflect on their sound or playability. I'll look at the old stuff in the guitar shop first, and then usually the old-fashioned stuff. Although it might be worth saying that this is a market that introduced the concept of the 'relic' - a new instrument knocked about to look like an old one - and therefore pointing to it as a marker for anything ought to be done with caution.
At the risk of revealing something of the hippy, lentil-weaving, quinoa-eating part of myself, though, I have been working on, for several years now, my ability to exist a bit more in the moment. Some moments are better than others, granted, but the big thing for me has been to allow the bad moments to pass without grabbing hold of them, shaking them and shouting at them, arguing with them. The idea behind Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is to engage these bad thoughts, and disarm them intellectually (ish; there's a bit more to it than that but that's the point), whereas the point of the mindfulness-based therapy I experienced is to allow the bad moments to pass without engaging with them. It sounds ludicrously simple - and as I have written before, that it can't possibly be effective - but I really think that those of us who might be characterised as dwellers, those of us whose thoughts churn endlessly (and usually unhelpfully, at night, preventing the exact restful sleep that might help them to ease), the searchlight souls, can learn something from it.
There's a risk, though, particularly if you read and act on folks' posts on facebook, those 'inspirational' quotations that encourage you to be true to yourself, to be honest with people, to live your life in the moment and all that stuff, that you might end up saying a bunch of stuff. The world works, as far as I can tell, on keeping some of what you think and feel to yourself. Imagine the unadulterated carnage if we all went ahead and just told each other what we actually thought or felt...
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought